At Risk Mental State Service (ARMS)

What does an 'at risk mental state' mean?

This is when people begin to have unusual experiences that can be distressing like hearing voices, feeling paranoid and/or have developed some unusual beliefs others do not share. These experiences sometimes mean it can be hard to study, go to work and spend time with people.

Getting help early can mean these experiences improve rather than get worse and can prevent a more serious mental health problem from developing.

What is an ARMS service?

Psychosis is a mental health condition which affects 1% of the population and usually affects people in their teens or early adult years, although older people can experience it too.

We are a service who aim to help prevent the development of a first episode of psychosis.

We work with people between the ages of 14 and 35 who are struggling with unusual experiences.

Each team is made up of a number of different professionals including mental health nurses, occupational therapists, CBT therapists and psychologists who are trained to offer a range of treatments and interventions to support people and their families.

How we help:

We will offer a personalised care plan tailored to individual needs and goals which might include:

  • Detailed assessment and understanding of what you have been experiencing
  • Ongoing support from a key worker
  • Specialist psychological interventions for you and important people in your life
  • Medical advice and consultation
  • Practical support about where you live and how you spend your time
  • Provide opportunities for social activities
  • Support to access other services aimed at improving wellbeing

How to get help

ARMS is currently in the early stages of launching therefore referrals are only being accepted as follows:

East Kent – Open to referrals across localities.

Tel No: 01227 812390

West Kent – The service is currently only accepting referrals from NELFT.  Tel: 0300 303 3189 (option 3) 

North Kent - Launch date to be announced

Changes to referral information will be updated regularly

Early warning signs

Early warning signs of an at risk mental state include the following: 

  • Constant tiredness
  • Withdrawal from family and/or friends
  • Feeling ‘uneasy’, irritable
  • Feeling depressed and anxious
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Appetite changes
  • Seeming muddled, losing concentration, problems with memory
  • Loss of energy and motivation
  • Thoughts feeling speeded up or slowed down.

This could lead to:

  • Becoming isolated and not communicating with people in your life
  • People having unusual or strange experiences such as hearing, smelling and/or seeing things others cannot
  • Feeling paranoid about others wanting to cause you harm
  • Struggling with confusing thoughts
  • May feel more anxious, irritable and/or low in mood

The causes of psychosis are not fully understood but some contributory factors may be:

  • Acute stress, lack of sleep, drugs and alcohol
  • Difficult Life events
  • Inequalities
  • Family history of mental health difficulties.
Useful links

No one should have to face mental health difficulties on their own, and support is widely available in the UK. 

Here you can find a list of organisations providing expert advice, a listening ear and resources for managing distress.

Mental health helplines and charities

Samaritans. Samaritans provide 24-hour online and phone support to people in distress. Call: 116 123. 

Mind. Mind is a charity that provides advice and support for people experiencing a mental health problem in England and Wales. Call: 0300 123 3393 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 6pm)

Rethink Mental Illness. Support and advice for people living with mental health problems. Call: 0300 5000 927 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 4pm)

SANE. National out-of hours mental health charity offering emotional support, guidance and information. Call: 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm to 10.30pm)

Mental Health Foundation. Information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.

Hearing voices & peer support

Voice Collective. Support and information for children and young people who hear, see or sense things that others don’t.

Hearing Voices Network. Support and information for people who hear voices, see visions, or have other unusual experiences.

Children and adolescents

Childline. Support for people under 19 in the UK. Call: 0800 11 11

Young Minds. Child and adolescent mental health charity. Call: 0808 802 5544 (parents’ helpline) 

Suicide prevention

CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). Charity dedicated to preventing male suicide. Call: 0800 58 58 58 (nationwide), 0808 802 58 58 (London)

Papyrus Hopeline UK. Confidential support for young people struggling with suicidal thoughts. Call: 0800 068 41 41