By Lucy Ashton
More support will be available to people experiencing emotional distress following the expansion of the Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) programme to further local areas.
If someone presents as ‘in distress’ to emergency services or in a primary care setting, this programme can offer them a call from a trained operator within 24 hours. They will then be provided with up to two weeks of one-to-one support to help address issues which might be contributing to their distress, including, for example, money worries and relationship problems.
NHS Ayrshire and Arran are the latest health board to launch a DBI programme, following the roll-out of a local service in Inverclyde earlier this month. Since it began in 2017, the programme has been made available in ten Health and Social Care Partnership areas.
Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey, pictured right, said: “This is an innovative programme and, we believe, world-leading intervention which provides vital support to people experiencing emotional distress. It is a crucial part of the wide range of actions we are taking to improve public mental health and well-being.
“Since its launch in 2017 over 12,800 people have been referred for support and these new sites, in addition to the new pathway through the NHS 24 Mental Health Hub helpline, will help us expand this service across Scotland by 2024.”
Someone who has experience of the DBI programme is Pamela, who self-presented as in distress to her GP. Pamela (her name has been changed to protect identities) had experienced depression and anxiety for some time but was finding it difficult to manage due to an altercation with a neighbour who was verbally aggressive towards her. Pamela said:
“I cannot thank DBI enough for the help I have received from them. I feel less stressed and now have ongoing support in place for the future which has given me more confidence. I feel encouraged now to start doing things again that I enjoy, like hobbies and seeing family again. DBI has also improved my self-esteem and I now know that I am worth more than what I had been willing to accept previously.”
National DBI Programme Manager Kevin O’Neill said: “Our partners across Ayrshire and Arran and Inverclyde have shown incredible collaboration in support of building connected compassionate support for people in distress.
“We welcome our new regions to the growing DBI community and we look forward to working and learning with them in our collective programme of incremental growth and continuous improvement with the shared ambition of providing the best connected compassionate support possible.”
In April 2020, as part of the response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a new pathway to the DBI service was created through NHS 24’s Mental Health Hub.
Anyone who phones the Hub in emotional distress from anywhere in Scotland, and who does not need emergency clinical intervention, can, where assessed as appropriate, be referred to the programme for further support.
Last year the government committed to extend the DBI programme across Scotland, for a transitional period to 2024, at which point it is expected to be fully embedded by all NHS Boards.