28 September 2021

Today a new centre launches in north west London that will advance knowledge about mental health difficulties and how to address them.

CAST – the Centre for Anxiety, Stress and Trauma – is run by Central and North West London (CNWL) NHS Foundation Trust and will bring together a wealth of expertise in understanding and treating anxiety, stress, and psychological trauma. Working closely with academic partners, they intend to be a focal point for those who work in, or are interested in, these areas and will develop opportunities for research collaborations.

CAST square logo post.pngDr John Green is the Clinical and Academic Director for CAST, and was formerly Chief Psychologist at CNWL and the Trust’s R&D Director. He has provided training and consultancy on behalf of a range of organisations and his research has addressed health behaviours, sexual health, infectious diseases, major incidents and the social predictors of recovery in psychological treatments. Dr Green describes how CAST will enable Trust colleagues and services to showcase what they are doing and build on existing strengths:

“A lot of people in the trust are doing fantastic work and we want to bring them together and help them to get their work out to a wider audience. There are many things we still don’t understand which make it harder to help our patients. We are also working to develop the infrastructure with academic partners to stimulate and support research aimed at improving clinical care.”

There is already an immense amount of expertise in trauma and its management at the Trust, including at the Woodfield Road Trauma Service, as well as addiction services and offender care to name just a few. There is also forward-thinking work on trauma-informed approaches (TIA) that is helping to integrate this into everyday practice.

Improving the mental health of individuals and communities, and being able to recognise when people need support, is more important now than ever.

“Trauma and stressful life events trigger many mental health problems”, Dr Green explains, “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is only one of those. These are not just issues for trauma specialists, they are part of the daily work of every health professional.”

Ferneley Ward Staff, Northwick Park Hospital

CAST has three primary strands of work:

  1. Delivering training, including on how to recognise and manage trauma and also traumatic stress.
  2. Providing consultancy to the wider healthcare system and to other organisations outside healthcare, both in the UK and internationally.
  3. Undertaking research with university partners and colleagues. Projects should focus on enriching and diversifying understanding of psychological trauma and its treatment as it relates to individuals and communities at risk.

Drawing on the Trust’s experience in mobilising to support communities, CAST will also provide advice and guidance to other agencies around the mental health response to major incidents and health emergencies.

For further information, to get involved and work with CAST, or to showcase great work already happening at the Trust, please contact the team by emailing cast.cnwl@nhs.net and see the CAST webpage for further details and updates.

And, as ever, for any staff seeking support the Keeping Well service is here to help.