Men's Mental Health - PICU

Male psychiatric intensive care ward (PICU) based in Essex, facilitating short term intensive treatment for adults aged from 18 to 65.

To make a referral, email:

or call the freephone referral number: 0800 434 6690

Audley Ward is a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit within the Men's Mental Health Pathway, based in Essex. It offers short periods of rapid assessment, intensive treatment and stabilisation for 13 men within a locked setting. 

The Audley Ward team aims to provide a high quality service offering assessment, treatment, care and security for men who are in an acutely disturbed phase of a serious mental disorder. It has defined its key patient outcomes to be rapid stabilisation, crisis resolution, risk-reduction, prevention of relapse and promotion of recovery. Goals for recovery, including an estimated date of discharge from the PICU, will be set as part of the admission process. The emphasis is on short-term intensive treatment with regular reviews of progress.

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A modern and bright day area

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On-site games room

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A modern single en-suite bedroom

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Ward based TV room

Admissions criteria

Males aged between 18 and 65 years old with mental health issue which may include:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Drug induced psychosis
  • Bi-polar affected disorder
  • Depression with suicidal tendency
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • significant risk of harming themselves or others
  • and are detained under the mental Health Act 1983.

These criteria are a guide for assessing suitability. Each patient will be individually assessed by our dedicated team.

Who we can help

Audley Ward provides short periods of rapid assessment, intensive treatment and stabilisation for patients before or during a longer period of inpatient care. Admission will be based on an individual needs assessment and in some cases patients may be admitted directly to a PICU. 

Patients admitted to a PICU will have behavioural challenges which seriously compromise the physical or psychological well-being of themselves or others, and cannot be safely assessed or treated in an open acute inpatient facility (usually a general adult inpatient mental health ward).

Patients will only be admitted to a PICU if they display a significant risk of aggression, absconding with associated risk, suicide or vulnerability (e.g. due to sexual disinhibition or over-activity) in the context of a serious mental illness.

It is envisaged that all PICU patients would be detained under the Mental Health Act (MHA) 1983, as admission and detention in a locked PICU environment constitutes a fundamental loss of freedom for an individual. If a patient has been discharged from their MHA detention at short notice, there may be a short period of time during which they remain on the PICU informally until an onward care plan and pathway is arranged.

Audley PICU is a member of NAPICU and adheres to the NAPICU minimum standards and their admission criteria


Admission criteria for PICU

  • Patients admitted to the PICU should exhibit mental state or clinical behaviour which seriously compromises their physical or psychological well-being, or that of others, and which cannot be safely assessed or treated in a general adult ward
  • Externally directed aggression. A patient is assessed as posing a significant risk of harm to others or extreme aggression towards property
  • Internally directed aggression. A patient is assessed as posing a significant risk of suicide and the patient is unresponsive to preventative measures available
  • Absconding patients who are detained under the MHA 1983, for whom the consequences of persistent absconding are serious enough to warrant treatment in the PICU
  • Unpredictably patients, potentially posing a significant risk to self or others and requiring further assessment
  • Patients should be detained under the MHA 1983 (all section papers are checked before accepting admission) and patients are not admitted under section 136.


Admission exclusion criteria for PICU

  • Patient is assessed as presenting too high an internal or perimeter security risk for the PICU, requiring a Medium or High secure PICU
  • The patient has a primary diagnosis of Substance misuse and the primary purpose of admission is solely to prevent access to substances
  • The patient has a primary diagnosis of Dementia, Learning Disability and Personality Disorder
  • Patients physical condition is too frail to allow their safe management on a PICU
  • Patient has a chronic condition which would not benefit from admission to PICU
  • The patient is restricted ( subject to MHA 1983 , via the courts ,Ministry of Justice) and has no clear pathway or provision for transfer from the PICU once clinically warranted
  • Patient must be 18 years and over and not above 65 years.


Treatment and care

We provide high quality, tailored treatment programmes which are developed to recognise each individual’s strengths, needs and risks, with specific emphasis on treating mental illness and starting the recovery process.

Our PICU patients are supported by high levels of experienced medical and nursing staff, Psychologists, Social Workers and Occupational Therapists.

Our team are expert in treating people with acute mental illness and complex needs, offering a range of group and individual therapeutic interventions to meet the patients’ needs at different stages of their recovery, including:

  • Psychological skills
  • Mindfulness
  • Problem solving
  • Mental health awareness, including: understanding stress, understanding medication, substance misuse and understanding unusual experiences (psychosis)

Once risk is reduced and the patient’s mental state and behaviour has been stabilised, transfer to an appropriate facility will take place – we focus on moving individuals on to these services and back in to less secure or community settings as soon as possible.

Audley Ward uses medication led model and follows the nursing approach of Safewards which incorporates:

  • clear mutual expectations
  • soft words
  • reassurance
  • mutual help meeting
  • bad news mitigation
  • positive words
  • calm down methods
  • discharge messages
  • talk down
  • know each other.

Depending on their mental state, patients will be engaged on a suitable OT programme to facilitate recovery.  These groups are facilitated by Occupational Therapists, Psychology, Nursing, with sessions also by the Physical Health Nurse and Advocacy.



  • Modern bedrooms
  • Therapy areas including crafts, information technology (IT) skills, kitchens and vocational rehabilitation
  • Fitness suite
  • Large enclosed courtyard and garden
  • Children and family visitor room
  • Multi-faith room
  • GP
  • Café
  • Library
  • Chillax Room.


Next steps

Discharge is considered at admission and our clinical and social work teams work with appropriate case managers to support a transition.