A pioneering Inverness pilot project, led by Support in Mind Scotland, which supports people in distress is being extended to include 16 and 17-year-olds.

The Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) programme currently provides support to people aged 18 and over who present to emergency services and primary care in distress or emotional pain.

DBI is a short-term intervention for people in distress/emotional pain who do not need emergency medical treatment, who present in settings like A&E departments, GP surgeries, to police officers or Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) staff.

It sees specially trained staff help individuals manage difficult emotions and problem situations early on, and come up with a ‘distress plan’ to prevent future crisis.

The project has helped almost 3,000 people since it launched two years ago in the four pilot areas; Aberdeen, Lanarkshire, the Borders, and Inverness. Over 400 of these have been in Inverness and from today, the connected, compassionate support DBI provides will be available to 16 and 17-year-olds locally.

In Inverness, the pilot is being led by the mental health charity Support in Mind Scotland (SiMS), along with Police Scotland, Scottish Ambulance Service, GPs, emergency departments and mental health teams.

“Early intervention like this is such an important part of how we support mental and emotional health” - Frances Simpson, Support in Mind Scotland CEO

Welcoming the extension to 16/17-year-olds, SiMS chief executive Frances Simpson, said: "Early intervention like this is such an important part of how we support mental and emotional health and DBI is all about equipping people with the skills and support to manage their own mental health and wellbeing and to prevent future crisis.

“I’m delighted this support has now be extended to 16 and 17-year-olds.”

DBI consists of two parts, with part 1 seeing trained front-line health, police, paramedic and primary care staff help ease any individual.

They then ask the person if they would like further support and if the person agrees, they refer them to the DBI service with a promise of contact within the next 24 hours to start providing further face-to-face support.

Part 2 is provided by commissioned and trained third sector staff, like SiMS, who contact the person within 24-hours of referral and provide community-based problem solving support, wellness and distress management planning, supported connections and signposting.

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

DBI programme manager Kevin O’Neill said: “It’s fantastic news that the connected, compassionate support which DBI-trained staff provide to those in distress is being extended to 16 and 17-year-olds.

“While this innovative project is still in the pilot phase, the extension is testimony to the hard work and commitment of all the organisations providing support.”

Main photo caption: (l-r) Yvonne Burton, national DBI administrator; Bruce Armstrong, SiMS; Anne MacDougall, SiMS; Kevin O’Neill, national DBI programme manager; Kirsteen Adams, SiMS; and Martin McCoy, national DBI data analyst.

Distress Brief Intervention Programme

  • The DBI programme emerged from the Scottish Government’s work on suicide prevention and mental health strategies.
  • It is being piloted in four areas – Aberdeen, Borders, Inverness and Lanarkshire with emergency department staff, police officers, SAS paramedics and technicians, GPs and out-of-hours, NHS 24, six level 2 providers and the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Health & Well-being.
  • The six level two providers are:
    • Penumbra in Aberdeen
    • Scottish Association for Mental Health in the Borders
    • Support in Mind in Inverness
    • Lanarkshire Association for Mental Health, Lifelink and The Richmond Fellowship in Lanarkshire.
  • For more information about the national DBI pilot please visit dbi.scot