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distress brief intervention

A brief intervention for people experiencing mental distress

Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) is a 365 days a year service for people experiencing mental distress, aiming to reduce the pressures on frontline staff.

Change Mental Health is the lead agency for Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) programme in Highland, Dumfries & Galloway, Argyll & Bute and Western Isles.

The project runs in different areas of Scotland, with a lead agency in each area facilitating the cooperative work of a large number of different local partners.

It’s a self-management programme with face-to-face or virtual appointments to deliver connected, compassionate and effective response to people in distress, making it likely they will engage with and stay connected to support that may benefit them over time.

Referrals are made by frontline services, including GPs, A&E, Police Scotland and Scottish Ambulance Service.

There are two levels of distress for Distress Brief Intervention

Level 1 is provided by frontline staff and involves a compassionate response and signposting.

There might be an offer of a referral to Level 2, which is provided by highly trained staff who contact the person within 24 hours. Here you will receive self-management; compassionate, community-based support; wellness and distress management planning; and signposting for longer-term support.

Distress is defined as: ‘An emotional pain for which the person sought, or was referred for, help and which does not require further emergency service response.’

“What I can say is that the service and support you have given me in my time of need has been invaluable. Your compassion and empathy while speaking to me was very encouraging and evident. This alone was enough to know that you cared and were listening.

“This is a skill you have and should bottle and sell. Thank you.”

Expressed by a person supported by the DBI team.


For further information about the DBI programme, send us an email or call on 01463 710963. You can find out more information on the Distress Brief Intervention website.


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