“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 8 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 8 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.
That’s completely up to you. It’s not a requirement from us, but some people chose to tell their parents or carers about doing Alumina. We do ask before you join a group that you give us an emergency phone number for an adult you trust. Most of the time we never need to use it, but if something happened and we needed to get you help right away we need to know there’s someone we can call. It doesn’t have to be a parent – it can be a teacher, youth worker, family friend or older sibling (if they’re over 18).
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.
is a trained adolescent counsellor, a trainee psychotherapist and manages the Alumina team. She also has her own cabaret troupe.
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 trained counsellor and the Mental Health Lead in a secondary school. She also speaks Portuguese and has a Brazilian penpal.
is a retired teacher, a dedicated grandmother, a volunteer youth worker and an avid cross stitcher.
is training as a secondary school teacher and volunteer youth worker but spends most of his time playing and watching football.
is a university lecturer and local volunteer youth worker. She likes playing board games, Xbox and cooking.
“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: