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Essex support and treatment for early psychosis (ESTEP): South West Essex


We provide specialist care for people aged 14 – 65 years old, who are experiencing psychosis for the first time in teams across Essex.

We support people and their families through what can be a difficult and confusing time; helping them to make sense of what is happening, feel more in control and achieve their goals.

People who experience psychosis can and do recover.

There are two kinds of services on offer:

  • One for people experiencing a suspected or actual first episode of psychosisand these services are called Early Intervention in Psychosis-EIP/First Episode in Psychosis-FEP or Early Psychosis services as well as
  • A service for people who are ‘at risk’ of developing psychosis – these services are called ‘ARMS’ services – which stands for At Risk Mental States. These services are currently being developed and launched across Essex. For further information on these services please use the contact information at the end.    

If you have been experiencing longstanding problems with psychosis, you can still receive a service, contact us, and we can put you through to the appropriate team.  

Service Information

Often the people we work with are at an important and sometimes stressful transition in their lives, such as finishing school, college or university, starting work, moving out of home, having children, or developing or ending relationships. Early intervention services such as Essex Support and Treatment for Early Psychosis ESTEP, aim to minimise the impact of experiencing psychosis during these critical periods in people’s lives.

What is Psychosis?

Psychosis is a name that mental health services use to describe certain experiences.  Whatever the cause, no one person’s experiences are exactly the same, but might include things like:

  • Hearing voices when there is no one there
  • Seeing, feeling, tasting or smelling things that others can’t
  • Holding strong beliefs that other people do not share or think are unusual
  • Worrying that people might want to hurt you in some way
  • Feeling very special, energised and having lots of thoughts and ideas
  • Having difficulties concentrating and thinking
  • Feeling confused and out of touch with your normal way of experiencing the world
  • Withdrawing into yourself and struggling to do things you usually do

Many people have these kinds of experiences (e.g. 1 in 10 people will hear voices in their lifetime and lots have beliefs that those around them find a bit strange), but they do not contact mental health services.  This tends to be because they do not find the experiences distressing.  There also might be differences in how people interpret these experiences, depending on their cultural beliefs and backgrounds.

Most people who get in touch with services such as ours do so because they or those around them find the experiences scary or upsetting and they want some help with them.  About 1 in 100 people who seek out support from mental health professionals may be offered a diagnosis of psychosis (sometimes this is given other names such as schizophrenia).  Around the same number of people in contact with mental health services will be offered a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Although the majority of individuals experiencing psychosis for the first time tend to be younger people (between 14 and 35 years old), our services are available to people up to the age of 65 years – as we know that these experiences can occur at any time of life.  For people outside of this age range, there are other mental health services and external organisations that can help.  For more information, please contact your GP, who will be able to provide advice and referral options.

What the service offers

The team is made-up of a wide range of professionals with particular sets of knowledge and skills. You and your family/close friends may find yourself working with a mental health nurse, psychiatrist, psychologist occupational therapist, employment advisor or social worker.

People engaged with the team have an allocated practitioner whose role is to coordinate their care and treatment plan and liaise with other practitioners to ensure interventions are appropriate and timely.

The service works within national guidance, that is:

  • People experiencing first episode psychosis will receive an initial assessment within 2 weeks
  • Once in the service you will be allocated to and engaged with by an EIP care coordinator
  • Be offered the full range of psychological, psychosocial, pharmacological and other interventions shown to be effective including:
    • Family Interventions
    • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychosis
    • Access to Employment Support Services
    • Physical Interventions.

The service also provides support for families and carers.

We work across the whole of Essex and are based in the community.  This means that we can meet with people in a whole variety of settings, depending on what feels most useful and comfortable for them.

Our teams have developed in collaboration with local partnerships and preferences and based on local needs, and as such have slightly different names. 

  • In South Essex the teams are called Essex Support and Treatment for Early Psychosis-ESTEP
  • in North East and Mid Essex ,they are called Early Intervention in Psychosis-EIP 
  • in North West Essex they are called the First Episode in Psychosis-FEP service

Contact us

ESTEP South West Team
Basildon, Brentwood and Thurrock
01268 407800

7 days a week

ESTEP South East Team
Southend and Castlepoint area
01702 538022

7 days a week

EIP Mid Essex
Chelmsford, Maldon, Braintree, Halstead
01376 522300

EIP North East Essex Team
01206 334000

FEP North West Essex
Harlow, Uttlesford, Stansted, Loughton, Epping
Single point of Access 01279 967 200


ESTEP Contact Centre
0300 123 0808

24 hours
7 days a week


Services to support those at risk of developing psychosis

  • ARMS South East Essex telephone/email: please contact your local EIP service and ask them about the local ARMS service
  • ARMS South West Essex telephone/email: please contact your local EIP service and ask them about the local ARMS service
  • For all other ARMS services (currently in development), please contact your local EIP service and ask them about the local ARMS service.

Referral Information

We accept self-referrals and referrals from family and friends, GPs, or other health and social services.  Although we recognise that it is not always possible, we would strongly encourage that all referrals are discussed beforehand with the person being referred;  as it is sometimes hard to know how to bring these things up, we can give advice or offer ideas about how you might discuss possible experiences of psychosis or making a referral.

Once someone is referred to our team, we will usually offer an assessment to discuss what their needs are, and decide together if we are the best service for them.  If we think another service might be more beneficial, we will talk with people about this and, if it seems helpful, make a referral to the relevant team.

Get help?