The Anna Freud Centre has a long history of developing, testing and disseminating new ideas about how children, young people and families can manage their mental health, with and without professional support. Our work is highly collaborative and we work with colleagues in the UK and abroad. 

Our research spans a range of areas, including: 

  • using neuroscience to investigate how the mind develops 
  • understanding why and how mental health problems emerge 
  • seeking to improve our understanding of mental health and resilience 
  • testing which treatments work best for children and young people experiencing mental health problems 
  • assessing the impact of programmes that aim to improve mental health services and support, including preventative interventions 
  • exploring community-based approaches to enhancing and promoting mental health and wellbeing  
  • developing effective support for marginalised and minoritised communities.

Current and past research projects

  • Current research projects

    The Anna Freud Centre, led by our research units, is involved in a number of ongoing research studies. The scope of our research is broad – it spans infancy and the early years, middle childhood and adolescence and includes evaluating the effectiveness of interventions, services and programmes and the development of assessment measures.

    Have a look

  • Past research projects

    Interested in our previous research projects? Our archive serves as a repository for the Anna Freud Centre's various research outputs from previous years.

    Explore our research project archive

Project highlights

  • HeadStart

    The Evidence Based Practice Unit leads the HeadStart Learning Team. We evaluate and share learning from HeadStart, a six-year, £67.4 million National Lottery funded programme that aimed to explore and test new ways to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people aged 10–16 and prevent serious mental health issues from developing.

    View our findings from HeadStart

  • Education for Wellbeing

    Funded by the Department for Education, Education for Wellbeing is England's largest research trial of school-based mental health interventions. Schools are randomly allocated to use one of five approaches to supporting pupil mental health. The Evidence Based Practice Unit is evaluating the approaches, examining their impact on pupils’ mental health and wellbeing.

    Learn more about Education for Wellbeing

  • The Reflective Fostering Programme (RFP)

    The RFP is a new group-based programme to support foster carers of children aged 411. It was developed by the Anna Freud Centre and implemented in collaboration with the NSPCC. The development of the RFP follows calls by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and other organisations to help improve outcomes for children in caremany of whom have experienced early maltreatment and traumaby providing better support to their carers.

    Find out more

  • Emotional regulation in children (ERiC)

    Our research units have received funding from the Kavli Trust to conduct a randomised controlled trial. The trial aims to evaluate the clinical- and cost-effectiveness of mentalization based treatment in improving mental health outcomes for children aged 6–12 with mixed (emotional and behavioural) difficulties.

    Learn more about this new clinical trial

Get involved in our research

From applying for our Researcher Internship Scheme to becoming an Anna Freud Centre research champion, taking part in focus groups and interviews and testing new technology, there are nearly always opportunities to get involved and help us make a positive change in the landscape of mental health support. 

Work with us

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