Young people in the Borders took time to give their views on an innovative mental health pilot which supports those in distress.

The Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) programme is part of the Scottish Government’s mental health strategy and 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.

The Scottish Government pilot was launched in the Borders in 2017 and was initially available to those 18 and over. However, so successful has the pilot been to date, a decision was taken to extend it in May to include 16 and 17-year-olds.

Three months on, a group of young people who engage with social care charity Quarriers’ Resilience for Wellbeing Service, met with some local, national and Scottish Government DBI project leads in the Wellbeing College in Galashiels to give their views on the extension in the Borders.

Haylis Smith, Borders DBI programme manager, said: “On behalf of everyone involved in the programme, I want to thank all the young people who took the time to meet us and give their thoughts on DBI.

“Engagement with young people had taken place prior to the extension to 16 and 17-year-olds, but it was fantastic to have this opportunity to have a conversation with them and get their views.”

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

It consists of two parts, with part 1 seeing trained front-line health, police, paramedic and primary care staff helping to ease 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.

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.

The project has helped around 3500 people nationally since it launched two years ago in the four pilot areas; Aberdeen, Lanarkshire, the Borders, and Inverness, including almost 600 in the Borders.

National DBI programme manager Kevin O’Neill said: “It was very insightful to hear how the connected, compassionate support which DBI-trained staff provide to those in distress, has been welcomed by 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 health, police and Scottish Ambulance Service staff, as well as the other organisations providing support.”

See also: The Scottish Government Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027 and The Scottish Government’s Suicide Prevention Action Plan

Photo: Local and national DBI programme leads were delighted to hear the views of some young people about the DBI extension to 16 and 17-year-olds.