North East mental health charity and NHS to pilot England’s first distress intervention programme

A North East charity is set to pilot a new NHS mental health scheme.

A local mental health charity, Mental Health Concern is leading the pilot of England’s first Distress Brief Intervention service in the North East.

Mental Health Concern is a local mental health charity that provides support to communities in Tyneside, Northumberland and Teeside. In partnership with Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, they will be trialling a new service, Distress Brief Intervention. This service will be to provide support to any individual in distress, but who does not require further emergency assistance.

DBI has two levels. The first level of DBI is to train all frontline staff such as A&E, Police, Primary Care, North East Ambulance Service and NHS111) to provide a compassionate response to people in distress, and being able to identify those who require a referral to the level two section of the service.

Level two of DBI is led by Mental Health Concern. Specially trained staff will contact those referred within 24 hours. This service will provide the individual with support, including wellness and distress management planning, supported connections and signposting for up to 14 days.

The aim of this service is to help people to reduce their immediate distress, and to support individuals to manage their mental health.

DBI has been a successful service in Scotland, but this is the first project in England. Results from Scotland show that 90% of people referred to the service agreed that DBI had given them the tools and skills to manage their distress and one in nine revealed that they may have attempted suicide or continued with their suicidal thoughts if not offered the service.


The charity will provide DBI alongside its Together in a Crisis service, which provides support to those in mental health crisis across the North East including working with TEWV in Teesside.

Rachel Smith, Consultant Applied Psychologist with Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Mental Health Concern to pilot the first DBI service outside of Scotland. This exciting new development is part of our work to make mental health support available to more people in their communities when they need it. We are confident it will make a real difference to the people of Derwentside.”

Mental Health Concern Head of Crisis and Housing Services, Julia Perry and Consultant Applied Psychologist with Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Rachel Smith.

Adam Crampsie, Chief Executive Officer for Mental Health Concern said: “I am delighted to see the invaluable DBI service being rolled out in England, and I am incredibly proud that Mental Health Concern will be advancing its working partnership with TEVW and our NHS and VSCE colleagues on this pilot scheme in Derwentside.

“We’ve seen the impact that the service has had in Scotland in helping people in distress to cope and manage their issues better. We believe that the DBI Service will be as effective in the North East and provide prompt and specialist support for those who need it.”