Coronavirus (COVID-19): mental health - transition and recovery plan

This plan outlines our response to the mental health impacts of COVID-19. It addresses the challenges that the pandemic has had, and will continue to have, on the population’s mental health.

11. Distress Interventions

During lockdown we have worked with partners to provide a broader range of immediate responses to distress. Distress is not an illness and does not tend to need a clinical response. However, it can be overwhelming and have a profound effect on the individual. Responses need to be immediate and cannot rely on referral and on waiting times.

The Distress Brief Intervention – our programme for those who turn to emergency services in emotional distress and who can benefit from a two week programme of support, rather than requiring a clinical intervention – has been successfully extended over the pandemic. Likewise, we have invested in the extension of the NHS24 Mental Health Hub.

The emergence of support which can be accessed whenever and wherever it is needed is an important and permanent change that we will embed and enhance.

  • 11.1 - Distress Brief Intervention. We will embed, develop and evaluate the move to a national, physically distanced approach to the Distress Brief Intervention programme. We are working with partners to develop a blended model of face to face, telephonic and digital contact that efficiently provides a person-centred response.
  • 11.2 - NHS24 Hub. We will embed, develop and evaluate the move to a 24/7 NHS24 Mental Health telephone hub. This has been a milestone achievement during the pandemic, with round-the-clock support now being available through this service.
  • 11.3 - Complex Needs. As part of our commitment to bring together services from across the health, justice and social care systems to focus on those with complex needs who present in distress, we will explore the adoption of a model involving an immediate and multidisciplinary response, triage, and navigating pathways for appropriate and compassionate care.



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