Essex Support and Treatment for Early Psychosis (ESTEP)

Our powerful film that shows the effect psychosis can have on young people – and how early intervention services such as ESTEP can offer invaluable help.

Overview of service

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

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 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

  • advice, information and on going assessment to support people to understand what is happening and what might help
  • a dedicated Care Co-ordinator (usually a nurse or social worker) who will help people develop a personalised care plan and co-ordinate other support within the team and with other agencies
  • psychological interventions, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for psychosis (CBTp)
  • medication options in discussion and review with our team psychiatrists
  • an adaptable and flexible approach, working with individuals and those around them to provide a service that meets their unique needs – regardless of age, culture and beliefs
  • a service that can be provided in various settings depending on what suits people best
  • a proactive approach to engaging with people, so we can develop good working relationships that help people achieve their goals, even if they are struggling to feel motivated at times
  • help taking steps to find or return to work, as well as voluntary work opportunities, accessing training or returning to education from our team employment specialists
  • groups (such as badminton, walking and social activities) and an allotment – to give people an opportunity to meet others with similar experiences, develop new skills and rebuild confidence
  • support and advice for family and friends, as well as family interventions provided by members of our team
  • a Trust carers support group
  • relapse prevention strategies developed in collaboration with our team and people’s support networks
  • liaison with home treatment and hospital services if people need more intensive support

Where Service is based

Essex Support and Treatment for Early Psychosis (ESTEP),
East South Essex

Rochford Hospital
Union Lane
Essex Support and Treatment for Early Psychosis (ESTEP),
West South Essex

Pride House
Christy Close
SS15 6EA

How to Contact Service

ESTEP Contact Centre  (24hrs, 7 days a week):  0300 123 0808
ESTEP South East Team (9am-5pm, 7 days a week): 01702 538022
ESTEP South West Team (9am-5pm, 7 days a week): 01268 407800

How to Access Service

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.