The Duchess of Cambridge attends her first engagement as Patron of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families

10th May 2016 By: Conrad Colson

On Wednesday 4th May the Duchess of Cambridge attended her first engagement as Patron of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, a lunch reception at the historic venue Spencer House, supporting the development of a new centre of excellence for children's mental health.

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The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families is campaigning for a step change in children’s mental health. The centre of excellence is a key aspect of this work and is due to open in the Autumn of 2018 in Kings Cross. The centre will for the first time, bring together under one roof, the best people and organisations in mental health, education, social care and neuroscience, alongside children and their families. At its heart will be The Family School, for children aged 5-14 excluded from mainstream school, which combines mental health care and education. The Centre has embarked on a £10million capital campaign to complete the £34million funding required for the project. The lunch coincided with the announcement by the Pears Family Foundation that they have committed £2.5m to our £10m fundraising target.

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At the reception the Duchess spoke to several parents who have been supported by the Centre, including Vicky, who Her Royal Highness had previously met at the Family School in September with her daughter Mia, 12. Mia had been referred to the Family School as she had been struggling to cope at mainstream school.

Vicky said: “When Mia was in primary school she was constantly interrupting the other pupils and shouting out in class. Emotionally she was a wreck and was doing things like biting other kids.”

“The family school has done wonders for Mia academically, mentally, and even physically. Her concentration levels are so much better. In the past she was a bit like a bull in a china shop. Now she manages to think now before she talks.”

“Mia’s now back in mainstream school and is doing really well. I’m ever so grateful to the family school and Anna Freud Centre.”

The Duchess also met key supporters and potential new supporters, and watched a short film about the ambitions of the organisation. See the film below:

The Duchess, who became Patron of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in February, has a continued interest in drawing attention to child mental health issues and the importance of early intervention and working with the whole family to provide children with in-school mental health services. Her Royal Highness is keen to draw attention to the ways in which this charity is working to lead a step change in children's and young people's mental health care.