distrACT app

distrACT app

  • An app for young people (17 years and older), with general information and advice about self-harm.
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distrACT app By Expert Self Care Ltd


  • Tips and ideas for safer alternatives to self-harm.
  • Resources such as music, poems, quotes, books and videos.
  • Information about managing the urge to self-harm and caring for yourself after an incident of self-harm.
  • Links to a variety of useful resources including safety planning, mindfulness, and websites providing ideas for self soothing through art, reading, films, etc.
Clinical review 

2 star review

Read a clinical review, including safety concerns, below.

Security and privacy Does the app:
  • Collect medical information? No
  • Require a login? No
  • Have password protection? Yes
  • Have a privacy policy? Yes
  • Require internet access to use? Yes

Read more about safety and security when using apps.

Tips to improve your privacy and security [PNG, 200 KB] Health Navigator Charitable Trust, NZ
Staying safe online(external link) Netsafe, NZ

Cost Free
How to get the app

This app is for young people, 17 years and older, who are concerned about self-harming. The app is specifically aimed at young people living in the UK but there are many features that are applicable to young people living in New Zealand. For example, the following sections may be helpful:

  • About self harm has information about what self-harm is, myths and facts, warning signs, dangers, etc.
  • Self-help has information on how to identify your needs, manage the urge to self-harm and safer alternatives to self-harm.
  • Support has tips and suggestions on how to get support and speak with family and friends.
  • Chill zone has a variety of resources to help you feel relaxed and inspired, with the aim of giving you a different perspective on things. Examples of resources are poems, quotes, music, movie and videos.
  • Emergency has information on first aid and what to do in an emergency.

Note: The local support feature is not applicable to New Zealand users. It has links to local support in the UK.

For the complete app description, go to Google Play(external link), App Store(external link) or for a more detailed review, see reviews below.


Provides some practical tips and resources.

Helps to increase knowledge of self-harm, suicide and related problems.

Developed in conjunction with some UK medical institutions and health professionals.

There are some important omissions:

  • no information about bullying (online and real-life)
  • no information about sleep and nightmares (common in people who self-harm)
  • no information about eating disorders (self-harm is very common in adolescents with eating disorders)
  • no information about the potential harms of social media and tips to limit use.
  • many reasons for and functions of self harm are missing, meaning that not everyone will feel validated by this app’s take on self harm.

 App relies on written information making it feel more like reading a pamphlet than an interactive app.

Relies heavily on links to external content which is vulnerable to change and errors.

Clinical review

2 star review

: Kris Garstang, Clinical Psychologist, Life Mind Psychology
Date of review: April 2022
Version: 2.1.1                               
Platform: Android 
Comments: DistrACT app is for young people (17 years and older), with general information and advice about self-harm. Users can get general information and advice about self harm, validation and a feeling of not being alone, as well as useful links and resources to help with self-harm, emergency situations and mental health more generally.

Overall, I do not think that this is the best app for New Zealanders wanting help with self-harm. It is not interactive, apart from through external links, and many people will find it boring to read without interactive exercises to try out.

The written format is possibly less likely to lead to people trying out and practicing useful skills, meaning that they are less likely to be armed with useful strategies at times of unbearable distress.

The other factor that lets it down for New Zealand audiences is that it is designed for use in the UK so that none of the links to help and support can be used by people in other countries. Although this app contains some useful information and links about self-harm, I recommend that people also seek out apps that provide the facility to manage self-harm urges during a crisis or, alternatively, look for local websites with information for crisis support services.
NZ relevance: :  Although this app has some useful information and content for New Zealanders, it is not suitable for use at times of crisis. Users may use it successfully at other times to gather resources and information about self harm and managing their risk of suicide.
Safety concerns
: Yes. Although this app does contain some useful information and resources related to self-harm and suicidality, it’s UK centred approach will make it frustrating for anyone who tries to use it during crisis ,as many of the contact numbers and links are for UK organisations. 

Clinical review

3 star review

: Jeremy Steinberg, GP, RNZCGP
Date of review: September 2019
Version: 1.0
Platform: Android
Comments: This app is most useful for people who self-harm. It gives activity ideas to help with resisting the urge to self-harm. It's an easy-to-use and well-designed app and is developed using some principles of dialectic behaviour therapy (DBT). The app is designed to be used at the time of a self-harm urge, which the aim of “riding the wave” until the urge passes. There are many ideas for activities to do at the time of the urge, as well as a breathing section, and a journal/tracking feature. I think this app would be very helpful for a lot of people.
Safety concerns: None
New Zealand relevance: Relevant.


  1. Vieira AM, Lewis SP. Mobile apps for self-injury – a content analysis.(external link) Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2018 May;21(5):333-337. 

Disclaimer: The NZ Health App Library is a free consumer service to help you decide whether a health app would be suitable for you. Our review process is independent. We have no relationship with the app developers or companies and no responsibility for the service they provide. This means that if you have an issue with one of the apps we have reviewed, you will need to contact the app developer or company directly.

Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.