Help at hand for those in distress or emotional pain

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Penumbra staff with partners

An Aberdeen pilot programme which helps those in distress is being extended to the wider Moray area.

The Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) programme is an innovative new service which provides early intervention to people in distress equipping them with the skills and support to manage the causes of their distress and reduce the possibility of future distress.

So successful has the pilot been in Aberdeen, that the mental health charity Penumbra – which leads the pilot in Aberdeen – has been given approval by the Scottish Government to become the first DBI associate partner allowing it to share the DBI learning in Moray.

Penumbra chief executive, Nigel Henderson, said: “We’re delighted the Scottish Government has enabled us to become the very first DBI associate partner.

“It will see us utilise the excellent learning, approaches and tools from across the national DBI pilots over the first two years, to train other agencies in the Moray area to provide the connected, compassionate support which DBI provides.”

DBI is a short-term intervention for people in distress or 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 staff.

It 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 Penumbra, 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.

Around 3,000 people nationally including nearly 700 in Aberdeen have benefited from the DBI support over the pilot period.

Moray DBI is live throughout June 2019 with support from partners; funding for the associate programme learning comes from the Moray Health and Social Care Partnership.

Pamela Cremin, integrated service manager for mental health services in the Moray Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “We’ve heard lots of positive things about DBI and we’re delighted to continue our collaborative relationship with Penumbra to make DBI available to people in Moray.

“This is directly in line with our service design and delivery that underpins Action 15 of the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027, to ‘Increase the workforce to give access to dedicated mental health professionals to all A&Es, all GP practices, every police station custody suite, and to our prisons’.”

Welcoming the associate programme development in Moray, the Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey MSP, said: “Our pilot DBI services have already made significant progress over the past two years, recently extending to 16 and 17-year-olds in two of the four pilot areas, with the other two expected to follow in July 2019.

“Penumbra has successfully led this important work in Aberdeen, and it’s excellent news they will now be extending this support to the Moray area to help even more people.

“Early intervention like this is such an important part of how we help mental and emotional health problems and the DBI is all about equipping people with the skills and support to improve their own health and to prevent future crisis.

“Mental health is an absolute priority for the Scottish Government and our ten-year mental health strategy clearly sets out our vision to address a number of challenges, including the provision of more efficient and effective mental health services and supporting mental health in primary care.”

DBI national programme manager Kevin O’Neill, said: “It’s testimony to the fantastic work that Penumbra has been doing as the lead DBI agency in Aberdeen, that they have become an associate partner.

“It’s also further evidence of the growing DBI movement through the North of Scotland with Aberdeen, Inverness and now Moray.”