New boost for SAS’s mental health provision


The Service has been provided with £1.6 million by the Scottish Government over the last three years as part of their Mental Health Strategy. The funding has supported mental health care initiatives, including establishing and staffing mental health triage cars, and boosting the care and support offered to individuals and communities.

This investment supports the recruitment of 21 new mental health staff, including thirteen mental health paramedics and a manager, four mental health dispatchers and three clinical effectiveness leads. These leads offer support across a range of work streams, with a focus on education, mental health pathways and connecting with key partners.  

The funding is also assisting with the continuation of the Service’s Mental Health Triage cars, which provide specialist care to people who are experiencing mental health challenges and have contacted the Scottish Ambulance Service for help. 

These Mental Health Triage cars offer an adaptive and approachable way of responding to people experiencing mental health distress, with a joint response from a mental health practitioner and a paramedic, to meet the patient's immediate needs. There are three mental health cars available for the east, west and the north, and are based in Dundee, Glasgow and Inverness.

The Service has a further range of support services in place for people calling 999 to report mental health distress. SAS has partnered with NHS 24 and Police Scotland as part of the Enhanced Mental Health Pathway to continue the development of a Mental Health Hub which is hosted within NHS 24. Accessible for patients 24 hours a day, the Hub is staffed by psychological wellbeing practitioners, mental health nurse practitioners and mental health senior charge nurses. In support of the Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) national roll-out, SAS continues to connect people in distress through this initiative, offering a response to people who have called 999.

The Scottish Ambulance Service’s Regional Director for the East region, Kenny Freeburn, said: “This funding continues to support the expansion of our initiatives to help in how we care for people experiencing mental health distress.

“It's estimated that at least one in four people a year in the UK will experience mental health challenges, and the number of people contacting the emergency services about mental health concerns is also increasing.

“Our clinicians are often the first responders to have contact with a person experiencing mental health distress. Our ambition across all our initiatives is to connect people to the most appropriate care to meet their needs in as timely a manner as possible.”

Mental Wellbeing Minister Kevin Stewart said:

“Mental wellbeing is more important than ever right now and I am pleased to see this initiative being established as part of the Scottish Government’s mental health strategy. With these three triage cars and over 20 dedicated roles within this service, it means people in need of mental health support will get it quicker and that can only be a good thing.”

Posted on 14/03/2022