Publish date: 6 February 2023

circle11.jpgA new crisis support cafe, ‘Circle’ has launched in Ealing to help children and young people who are experiencing or nearing a mental health crisis. The new service, delivered by Hammersmith, Fulham, Ealing and Hounslow Mind (HFEH Mind) in partnership with the North West London CAMHS Provider Collaborative led by West London NHS Trust, is the first of its kind in the UK. It provides drop-in and appointment-based specialist mental health support 365 days a year, with the aim of relieving pressure on local A&E departments.

Circle has its own dedicated space at 46 South Ealing Road, in Ealing, London which has been specially designed to create a welcoming, calm, and safe space with café facilities for local children and young people. The service is staffed with both clinical and non-clinical highly specialised Crisis Support Navigators from HFEH Mind who have a background in CAMHS and crisis care. Young people can self refer or be referred to the Circle by school, social care, A&E, or CAMHS crisis services between 3pm-11pm on weekdays and 12-8pm on weekends.

Nationally, the number of under-18s presenting to A&E with a recorded diagnosis of a psychiatric condition has significantly increased (more than tripling between 2010 and 2018-19). However, many of these do not require hospital care. In London in 2021, 50% of young people who attended A&E experiencing a mental health crisis were deemed not to require hospital treatment at that time and discharged home.

Circle café launches in Ealing

A&E departments are often the only place available to take children experiencing a mental health crisis; but many children do not require hospital care and cannot access the appropriate psychological help there. Circle provides dynamic clinical assessments and more immediate practical help to de-escalate the presenting risk, as well as signpost to other local services.

Nana Owusu, Director of Children & Young People’s Services at HFEH Mind said,

“A&E departments are already overstretched and often not the best place for a young person in crisis who’s already feeling distressed and overwhelmed. Circle provides a much needed safe space and immediate support for young people who reach a crisis point with their mental health.

 “We’ve seen a big increase in children and young people going to A&E with mental health problems in the last 10 years - but for many of them, A&E isn’t the right place. They don’t require hospital treatment; they need support from trained mental health practitioners to de-escalate in that moment of crisis or distress, and this is where Circle comes in.”

Dr Johan Redlinghuys, Clinical Director for North West London CAMHS Provider Collaborative said:

“Opening the Circle is a significant landmark in our strive to make sure young people in mental  health crisis are treated by the right people, in the right place, as quickly as possible. Demand for NHS mental health services continues to increase and so by putting in place a specialist hub to support young people across North West London, we hope this will reduce pressure on A&E units and set a benchmark for other similar services across the NHS”.    

circle14.jpgThe service has been co-designed with local young people, as well as parents, carers and local partner agencies, including Community CAMHS teams, CAMHS Crisis teams, social care, the Met Police, local GPs, youth liaison and diversion teams, drug and alcohol services and NHS North West London Integrated Care Board.

Circle has been launched as an 18 month ‘test and learn’ pilot with HFEH Mind and the North West London CAMHS Provider Collaborative and in collaboration with Mind in Hillingdon and Mind in Harrow. The pilot will receive continuous monitoring and evaluation with a view to rolling out similar services in other locations across North West London.