“Since starting alumina it’s become the highlight of my week. It’s such a safe, non judgemental place which has really helped me in my recovery.”
“If you’re thinking about joining I’d say go for it, the team are lovely and everyone who does it is so welcoming and supportive”
Alumina is a free, online 7 week course for young people struggling with self-harm. Each course has up to 14 young people, all accessing the sessions from their own phones, tablets or laptops across the UK. The courses take place on different evenings of the week and are run by friendly, trained counsellors and volunteer youth workers. You don’t need an adult to refer you or sign you up, and no-one will see or hear you during the sessions – you’ll just join in via the chatbox. We want to help you to find your next steps towards recovery, wherever you are on your journey.
Alumina could be a helpful step forward. If you sign up we’ll begin a conversation over email to work out if it might be a good fit – and you can ask us any questions you have. The only rule we have in Alumina is that we don’t talk about suicide in the groups. If that’s something you are struggling with thinking about we recommend getting in touch with our friends at Papyrus who are better equipped to support you.
“I thought it would be all serious and uncomfortable because of the self-harm talk but actually, the staff have made me laugh, we’ve been given a space that feels relevant to our ages and most importantly we can turn up in any mood and they’ll be there for us.” Runa
“Clicking on the link for the first time was nerve wracking and intense with lots of thoughts going through my head. But within only a few minutes of the session I had a smile on my face and felt comfortable with the staff and the group.”
“Alumina was quite different to what I expected, I thought it would just be an intense 6 weeks and it would be over like other services. But it was nothing like that - instead I felt and still feel very supported by the staff. The group and staff are like a big family who’s always there for me.”
“Clicking that link for the very first time was terrifying. But I knew it could be life-changing. The first session I felt welcome, I no longer felt like an outsider. It’s fun, believe me!! Most days I find myself looking forward to the next session because Alumina gives me a sign of hope.”
We aren’t a crisis service so if you’re in need of immediate support please contact one of the following:
The Mix: Offering essential support for anyone aged 12-25. For their crisis messenger support service text THEMIX to 85258.
Childline: Support for anyone up to age 18. Call, chat online or email their crisis service.
Samaritans: Call 116123 anytime if you need to talk to someone.
Alumina groups are online support groups made up of up to 14 young people and 2 leaders, and meet online once a week for 7 weeks. They offer a friendly, inclusive, non-judgmental space where we offer you tools and ideas to help you reflect on your journey and what might be the next right step for you, as you move towards a life free from self-harm.
Not at all. Signing up means we start an email conversation with you to explore whether or not Alumina feels like a good fit for you.
Absolutely. It’s really easy to leave a session. We trust you to look after yourself and we will never pressure you to stay any longer than you want to. And it’s always up to you whether or not you click the link to join the session.
We’ll start by making sure everyone can see and hear us ok, and have a little catch-up (which you can join in with as much or as little as you like). Each week has its own topic – like addiction, or emotions – and we’ll begin with a question for everyone to think about. Then we’ll offer you some of our thoughts about the topic, and there will be an activity you can join in with. Finally we’ll think practically and offer you some ideas to try out in your own time.
If you’re aged 10-12 we’ll need permission from the adult you live with for you to do the course.
Yes of course. We understand that things come up and you sometimes need to miss a session. We’ll try to help you catch up on what you missed. If you miss a couple of sessions in a row we’ll get in touch to make sure you still want to hear from us, and if we don’t hear back we’ll stop sending the group links to you.
First – we understand that this happens sometimes. We talk about some pretty big issues in Alumina and sometimes that brings things up that feel hard to deal with. You can send a private message to one of the group leaders in the session to let them know you’re struggling, and they will try to support and help you without bringing it into the wider group. But if you need to leave the session, that’s also fine. You need to look after yourself and we will always respect that.
We’ve changed the shape of our support for young people. This website introduces Alumina, our online support groups for young people struggling with self-harm. We’ve also recently launched beheadstrong.uk offering young people all kinds of information, stories and videos about looking after your mental and emotional wellbeing. You can find links to some of selfharm.co.uk’s most popular articles below.
Yes we have! We have worked with 14-19 year olds for many years but we have always heard from people who are younger (or those who care about them) asking if we do anything for younger people. Then from September 2022 we reduced our age range to 11, and found how important it was to support this age range and that our Early Intervention project was great for this age range. Therefore, from October 2023 we will be aiming our work at young people in secondary school or college (or equivalent) and those transitioning to secondary school and our age range has reduced to 10-17 years old. If you’re under 13 we will need to get permission from someone with parental responsibility for you, and we will email them to explain how Alumina works and make sure they are happy with you joining a group.
We aim to group similar aged young people into groups together, so 10–13-year-olds will be offered groups together and 13-17 year olds will be in other groups together. We are happy to work with anyone until the end of their full-time education, therefore we will work with 17- and 18-year-olds so long as they are three months or more away from finishing their education at the end of August.
manages Youthscape’s online store and room bookings and is also training as a counsellor. She has a very cute cat who often joins Alumina sessions.
runs Youthscape’s mental wellbeing platform, Headstrong. If you can’t find her, she’ll be riding horses out on the moors, or drinking coffee overlooking the sea.
is a university lecturer and a volunteer youth worker, and loves to spend her summer leading camps for young people.
works in student wellbeing and is a trainee psychotherapist. She likes drawing, knitting and rock climbing and she’d really like a mannatee as a pet.
is a retired teacher, a dedicated grandmother, a volunteer youth worker and an avid cross stitcher.
is a university lecturer and local volunteer youth worker. She likes playing board games, Xbox and cooking.
helps manage Alumina, is a Clinical Health Psychology graduate, and a youth worker. He’s interested in how we feel and likes gardening, gaming, and hanging out with his two cats.
works in youth mental health and is a Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience student. He loves comic book movies, poetry and music.
is a psychology student and has been volunteering for many years.
is a recent psychology graduate who has been doing voluntary youth work for 4 years. I love cats, food, musical theatre and tech!
is a final year Psychology student aspiring towards a career in Paediatric Neuropsychology, here to learn and help within Alumina and hopefully start on the Clinical Psychology Doctorate soon.
We have recently started to do live webinars on YouTube on issues related to self-harm and emotional wellbeing
If you’re a parent, professional or friend supporting a young person who’s self-harming, we recommend taking an hour to watch this webinar with our Alumina Managers. They explore why people self-harm, why young people especially self-harm, why it becomes addictive, how to break the addiction cycle, and what young people wish the adults around them understood about self-harm.
“Alumina is a well thought through support service for young people; it is professional, caring and accessible to all. Signposting a young person to Alumina will help them begin their recovery journey.”
DR. KATE MIDDLETON
is a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor based in Birmingham, with a particular interest in developing compassion focussed group psychotherapy.
has worked for over 20 years in many different settings with young people, specialising in issues related to self-harm and emotional resilience. She works for RedThread in Birmingham.
is a psychologist, mum of 2 and director of the Mind & Soul Foundation as well as the project director of Headstrong.
is an art therapist, specialising in therapeutic work with children, young people and their families. She runs Creating Healthy Minds, a private Art Therapy Practice, alongside her clinical work in CAMHS.
We’ve moved some of our most popular articles about self-harm over to beheadstrong.uk, and you can use these links to find them:
The Alumina Workbook is a great addition to the online course – giving you a physical copy of the book to write about your experience and engage in the activities from the sessions. The workbook can also be used as an alternative to doing the online course by working through it with a trusted adult.