The start of 2019 saw the 2019th referral being made to the Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) programme, of which Support in Mind Scotland is the delivery partner in Inverness.

It was a hugely significant moment as 2019 is shaping up to be a big year for the DBI pilot programme with it entering its second full year of implementation and plans put in place to take forward the Programme for Government’s commitment to extend it to under 18s.

Kevin O’Neil, national DBI programme manager, said: “The timing of this referral in Inverness couldn’t have been more symbolic as 2019 will see the growth of DBI and some substantial developments.

“Through commitment and working together by all involved in the phased implementation in the four pilot areas – Aberdeen, Scottish Borders, Inverness and Lanarkshire – the pilot programme continues to go from strength to strength and the Programme for Government has committed to expand the DBI Programme pilots during 2019 to include people under 18.

“This will mean that even more people in the pilot areas will benefit from the connected compassionate support which DBI offers at such an early stage.”

The DBI programme is a ground breaking pilot project which has brought frontline emergency department, police, primary care and Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) staff together and made it easier for them to provide connected compassionate support to people who present to emergency services in distress.

It emerged from the Scottish Government’s work on suicide prevention and mental health strategies.

DBI has two parts. Firstly, trained front line emergency staff help ease any individual who is in immediate and often overwhelming emotional distress. They then ask the person if they would like further support and if the person agrees, they refer the person to the new DBI service with a promise of contact within the next 24 hours to start providing further face-to-face support.

Inverness based SAS paramedic Joanna Findlay, who made the 2019th referral, said: “I wasn’t aware of the significance of this referral until being told by colleagues.

“For me the most important point was I was able to help someone who we had attended to and who was clearly in some emotional pain.

“This emotional pain can be caused by many factors such as relationship issues, loneliness, bereavement, money and housing worries and life coping issues.

“Evidence shows these situations don’t require further treatment at emergency department but require quick emotional and practical support in the community.  

“DBI now addresses this gap and while paramedics can and still do take people to hospital for further emergency treatment, they now also have this additional more appropriate option available to them.”

Within Inverness, the support from the referral is provided by the mental health organisation Support in Mind Scotland.

“Those who have received the DBI support on average have shown that their level of distress has halved

- Anne MacDougall, Support in Mind Scotland DBI manager

Anne MacDougall, Support in Mind Scotland DBI project manager, said: “We’re delighted to be providing the new DBI service here in Inverness.

“Like the other pilot areas, everyone who has been referred for DBI support has been contacted within 24 hours, with the vast majority opting to receive further support.

“What is even more encouraging is that all those who have received the DBI support on average have shown that their level of distress has halved, have reported experiencing very high levels of compassion, and feel they are more able to manage their current distress and are more confident about managing any future distress.”

  • Main picture caption: (l-r)  Joanna Finlay with Lisa Anderson and Anne MacDougall from Support in Mind Scotland in Inverness.