A unique pilot programme which aims to improve how we support people who present to emergency services in distress, recently helped its 1000th person. Support in Mind Scotland has played its part in the milestone by helping to provide the project in Inverness.

The Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) programme is a ground breaking pilot project which has brought front-line Emergency Department staff, police officers, GPs and Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) paramedics together to provide connected compassionate support to people in distress.

The DBI programme is being piloted in four areas – Aberdeen, Borders, Inverness and Lanarkshire with NHS Scotland, Police Scotland and Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS 24, and the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Health & Well-being among the partners.

Support in Mind Scotland provides the DBI in Inverness, Penumbra in Aberdeen, SAMH in the Borders and Lanarkshire Association for Mental Health, Lifelink and The Richmond Fellowship in Lanarkshire.

Support in Mind Scotland has three colleagues who form the core DBI team in Inverness: Anne MacDougall, DBI Project Manage, Kim Haines, DBI Coordinator and Lisa Anderson, DBI Coordinator. Anne and Lisa are pictured above celebrating the 1,000-person milestone.

Several other SiMS staff in the Highlands have taken part in training for the project and may do sessional work as it becomes available. The Inverness DBI project was launched on 30 October 2017 and we received our first referral on 2 November.

Below, some of our team at SIMS National Office, were proud to recognise the 1,000th person helped.

The programme has two parts. Firstly, trained front line emergency staff help ease any patient/individual who is in immediate and sometimes overwhelming emotional distress. They then ask the person if they would like further support and if they agree, 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.

Kevin O’Neill, national DBI programme manager, said: “The DBI programme emerged from the Scottish Government’s work on suicide prevention and mental health strategies.

“Those who have received the DBI support show their levels of distress have halved and report experiencing very high levels of compassion, and feel they are working towards their own goals.

 “We felt it was important to recognise all the hard work that has went into developing the DBI programme, which has meant that over 1000 people have benefited from this compassionate, connected support at such an early stage.”

Inspector Julie Robertson, the Police Scotland lead for the DBI pilot, said: “We’re delighted to be part of this fantastic programme. It’s been very well received by our officers who feel more equipped to support people in distress.

 “They have been delighted to see that, everyone who is referred for DBI support is contacted within 24 hours, with 80 per cent going on to receive further support.”

Jill Fletcher from the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “Ultimately we hope the programme will help reduce the number of people presenting to emergency services as a result of distress by providing them with this additional support. It could also help us better identify mental health, social and substance misuse problems and reduce self-harm and suicide.”

The pilot’s success led to a visit by Rose Fitzpatrick, chair of Scotland’s National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group who met representatives from many of the partners, during Suicide Prevention Week.