HRH The Duchess of Cambridge launches Centre of Excellence to drive change for child mental health

1st May 2019 By: Michelle Cunliffe

Today, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of the Anna Freud Centre is opening the new Anna Freud Centre of Excellence to drive change in children and young people’s mental health.


One in eight children and young people in England have a diagnosable mental health disorder today – that’s 1.25 million children and young people.

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, says: “Childhood mental health disorders have reached unacceptably high levels. As a society, we have a moral imperative to drive change on children’s mental health. Opening our new building is our contribution to this – giving parents, communities and practitioners the skills, knowledge and support to help children build their health and wellbeing, and the confidence to seek professional help when needed.”

The Anna Freud Centre is responding to the challenge of child mental health by bringing together the best in research, clinical expertise and training under one roof. Building on 60 years’ experience, the organisation’s new Centre of Excellence will help turn cutting edge research into policy and practice that can give more children and young people the help they need, when they need it.

The new building, the Kantor Centre of Excellence for children’s mental health is a purpose-built space where leading neuroscientists and practitioners in mental health, social care and education will work together with children and young people to transform mental health for them and their families. At the heart of the new centre is the ground-breaking Pears Family School, a school for children who have been excluded from mainstream education.

The opening will be hosted by the broadcaster and journalist and mental health advocate Kate Silverton who says: “There’s never been a greater need for leading experts across all disciplines to come together to meet the challenge of helping young people with their mental health and wellbeing. This Centre provides an extraordinary new home for children and their families. For me, the Anna Freud Centre’s commitment to the individual, working with them holistically is the key to providing the right support at the right time. I’m delighted to be part of this great day.”

The Anna Freud Centre’s work includes early intervention with parents and babies, through to promoting positive mental health in schools, through to clinical support for some of the most vulnerable children and young people including those in care. For example:

  • We reach over one million children and young people through schools and colleges by providing trusted resources, training school staff and researching how best to support pupils.
  • We work to nurture and protect children and young people from the impact of trauma following abuse, neglect or a traumatic event, thereby helping to build their resilience through trusted adult relationships.
  • We are building a world class workforce having trained 8,000 mental health professionals last year, and currently have 330 postgraduate students.


“There are real, practical ways in which we can do more to help children and their families. Early intervention focused on child emotional wellbeing is probably the most effective social investment any society could make, both from an economic and moral perspective. Through our new Centre, we can deliver on our vision of a world where children and families are supported to build on their strengths to achieve their goals in life,” says Professor Fonagy.