This page includes information about:
- the government-funded Link Programme and how to access it
- where to find out what services are available
By improving joint working and collaboration with mental health services, children and young people are more likely to get the support they need when they need it. Joining up education and mental health services is at the heart of developing a seamless service for children and young people. This is new territory for many schools and colleges and requires a new level of collaboration between services.
In putting into practice the proposals set out in the Green Paper ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’ the government committed to bringing together education and mental health services to ensure long-term collaboration through the Link Programme.
Accessing the Link Programme
The Link Programme is a national initiative funded by the Department for Education, supported by NHS England and led by the Anna Freud Centre. It will reach every school and college in England over four years (2019–2023), identifying children and young people’s needs at an early stage and equipping professionals to support them so that more children and young people get the help and support they need, when they need it.
The Link Programme is coordinated at a local level by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). CCGs are responsible for planning and commissioning health services to meet the needs of the local population. They are elected bodies made up of GPs and other clinicians. Their involvement means that schools and colleges can use their knowledge and experience to influence future service development to meet children and young people’s mental health needs.
We recommend that schools and colleges access this free initiative by getting in touch with their local CCG. If you are a school or college and want to take part, use the map to contact your local CCG.
The Link Programme is an evidence-based intervention that has been piloted over a period of three years. It aims to improve joint working between schools and colleges and child mental health professionals. An independent evaluation of the pilot found that the programme resulted in:
- Improved contact between schools and mental health services
- Increased knowledge and awareness of mental health issues and confidence in supporting children and young people experiencing them
- Improved working methods and processes
- School specific referral protocols
- Improved understanding and awareness of referral routes
- Better quality and consistency of referrals.
- Early signs of change to whole school or college policies, resourcing and staffing.
If you are an education professional trying to help a child or young person find support, our Youth Wellbeing Directory provides a list of free local and national organisations for anyone up to the age of 25, along with important information you may find helpful.
Understanding and mapping your local service landscape is an important factor in planning and improving children’s access to support.