Frontline emergency staff were among those praised after a unique mental health project which helps those in distress won a prestigious Scottish Health Award.

The hospital emergency department (ED), Police Scotland, Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), primary care and third sector staff, were all singled out for their dedication to the Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) programme after it picked up the Care for Mental Health award at the event last night (Thursday November 14).

DBI provides an ‘ask once – get help fast’ early intervention for people in distress/emotional pain who do not need emergency medical treatment.

Frontline staff often meet people who are emotionally overwhelmed as a result of issues such as bereavement, relationship, stress, low mood or financial worries.

(Above l-r): Bruce Armstrong, Support in Mind Scotland; Nigel Henderson, Penumbra; Haylis Smith, Borders DBI lead; Kevin O’Neill; John Truesdale, Lanarkshire DBI team; Dr John Mitchell.

Some of these staff are now trained to help ease a person’s immediate distress with compassion, empowered with the knowledge they can refer the person for community support, which the person will be contacted about within 24 hours.

National DBI programme manager Kevin O’Neill dedicated the award to all the staff across all the agencies involved.

Kevin said: “In acknowledging this achievement, we are of course sensitive to the fact our recognition comes from helping those in distress.

“It is this sensitivity to those in distress that inspires us all to work together to improve the outcomes and experiences of these people when they need help most.

“With almost 5,000 people helped so far, I know the biggest validation for our incredible front-line and third sector staff comes from seeing the difference they are making to people’s lives day in and day out.

“But I really hope all who have been part of the development and delivery of the DBI programme, take a great deal of satisfaction and pride from this recognition.

“I can’t stress highly enough, this award is for all of them and I’m sure it will inspire and motivate us all to continue to provide the best connected compassionate support possible.”

DBI consists of two parts, with part 1 seeing trained front-line ED, police, paramedic, and primary care staff help ease an individual’s immediate distress. 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 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.

Data gathered so far shows on average, the level of distress of those who have received DBI support, has halved.

DBI is a Scottish Government funded pilot and the Government’s principal medical officer Dr John Mitchell said: “Any initiative is only as good as those who embrace and deliver it and I want to use this opportunity to thank all the health and social care, police, ambulance and third sector staff who have made this possible.

“The success of DBI is a tribute to their belief and commitment and I’m absolutely delighted this has also been recognised by the award judges.”

Above: DBI central team: (l-r) Martin McCoy, DBI data analyst; Yvonne Burton, DBI administrator; Chris White from the DBI evaluation team; Dr Jack Melson, University of Glasgow; Kevin O’Neill.

Above: Lanarkshire DBI team members include (l-r) Jacqui Taylor, Lifelink; Carol Irvine, Lifelink; Lynsey Callander NHS Lanarkshire; Mandy Dewar, Lanarkshire Association for Mental Health; Lisa Reynolds, Lifelink; Hugh Cairns, Lanarkshire Association for Mental Health; Roseanne Collins, Lifelink; Alex Gilmour, Richmond Fellowship Scotland; Kevin O’Neill; John Truesdale Lanarkshire mental health improvement manager; Anne Marie Brankin, Richmond Fellowship Scotland.

Above: Borders DBI team (l-r) Karen McIlroy, Police Scotland Borders DBI coordinator; Alex Cummings, Scottish Association for Mental Health; Fiona Umpherston, DBI practitioner; Rachael Fraser, Scottish Borders Health and Social Care Partnership; Haylis Smith, Borders DBI lead; Oxana MacGregor-Gunn, Scottish Association for Mental Health; Kevin O’Neill; Fiona Finch, Scottish Association for Mental Health.

Above: Aberdeen DBI team (l-r) Karen Gun, Aberdeen Health and Social Care Partnership; Rachael Middleton, Penumbra; Pamela Cremin, Moray Health and Social Care Partnership; Nicholas Simpson, Scottish Ambulance Service; John McCullough, Scottish Ambulance Service; Nigel Henderson, Penumbra.

Above: Inverness DBI team: Steve Gorman, Scottish Ambulance Service; Ken Porter, Spirit Advocacy; Bruce Armstrong, Support in Mind Scotland; Kevin O’Neill, Anne MacDougal, Support in Mind Scotland.

Above: Police Scotland DBI leads include: (l-r) Elaine Tomlinson, Police Scotland; Karen McIlroy, Police Scotland Borders DBI coordinator; Kevin O’Neill; Pamela Colvin, Police Scotland; Lynne Robson, Police Scotland based in Borders.

Above: Scottish Ambulance Service DBI leads include: (l-r) Nicholas Simpson, Scottish Ambulance Service; Kevin O’Neill; Steve Gorman, Scottish Ambulance Service; John McCullough, Scottish Ambulance Service.