Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge becomes Patron of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families

17th February 2016 By: Conrad Colson

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The Duchess of Cambridge has become a Patron of the Anna Freud Centre as the charity continues its campaign to create a step change in children’s mental health in the UK and fundraises for a new centre of excellence in central London.

The patronage reflects Her Royal Highness’s continued personal interest in children's mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, said: “I am honoured that the Duchess of Cambridge has chosen to become a patron of the Centre. I’m particularly proud because I have come to recognise just how knowledgeable she is in relation to what is a complex and difficult issue that so few people genuinely understand.

He added: “It is my hope that her future work in this field will serve as a catalyst for all and that we are able to achieve the quality of care that children and their families so richly deserve.”

Michael Samuel, Chair of Trustees at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, said: "We are delighted that the Duchess has chosen to become a patron of the Centre. As a champion of mental health, she will make a huge difference not just to the children and families we support but to families all over the country."

The Centre believes a step change is needed to radically improve the state of children’s mental health care in England.

It is campaigning for much greater integration of mental health support and services into our education, health and social care systems, built around the needs of children young people and their families and not around institutions, plus increased scientific innovation, research and collaboration as part of a holistic approach to transforming policy and practice.

As part of its commitment to creating that step change, the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families is developing a new centre of excellence, which will bring together the best people and organisations in neuroscience, mental health and education to work directly with children and their families. It will be a knowledge hub and community, developing new treatments, interventions and approaches informed by the most recent scientific discoveries to deliver better mental health services on a local, national and international level.

At its heart will be a family school, the first setting of its kind where not only is mental health completely integrated into children’s education but the entire family is supported. This helps the child gain the full benefit from their learning opportunities, with the aim of re-integrating into mainstream education. It will be a place where they can feel in charge of their own lives and have a voice in the support and treatment they receive.

The centre of excellence will also be home of a research collaboration between UCL and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, The National Centre for Child Development.

Professor Alan Thompson, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences, said:  “The establishment of the National Centre for Child Development at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families is an exciting and much needed development and will be a key element of UCL’s Mental Health Institute. It is wonderful news and indeed fitting that we will have someone as committed and dynamic as HRH the Duchess of Cambridge as its patron.”

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