The Link Programme

As a CCG lead, your role will be to coordinate your local Link Programme. We’re here to support you and we’ve spent the last five years delivering the programme, so we know how to make it work locally - ensuring all stakeholders are engaged and benefit from taking part.

The programme is currently delivered fully online and consists of self-study modules and two live workshops led by the Anna Freud Centre, bringing together education and mental health professionals. It will give you the opportunity to play a lead role in shaping and delivering systemic change in your locality.

We have developed a wide range of resources to help you, including a comprehensive toolkit for planning and delivering the programme in your area. If you'd like to get involved or have any questions regarding the programme, please contact us on

We are currently recruiting CCGs who would like to take part in the programme in the 2020/21 academic year.

Register your interest

Guide for CCG leads

This booklet will give you an overview of the Link Programme and how it is delivered online including:

  • An overview of the programme and its aims
  • The benefits of taking part
  • Your role as CCG lead
  • The content of the Link Programme

We’ve got more resources at the bottom of this page if you want to explore the programme further.

What is the programme’s aim?

The Link Programme has a simple aim: to bring together education and mental health professionals in each local area so that more children and young people can get the help and support they need, when they need it.

Very often, children and young people’s mental health problems first get noticed at school. We know that school and college staff care deeply about pupil wellbeing, but they also tell us they are not always sure how to respond to their needs. The Link Programme supports staff to spot when young people need help and signpost them to specialist services, thereby saving staff time, boosting professional skills and giving children more effective support.     

How is the programme structured?

The Link Programme is designed to bring together schools, colleges and mental health services under their local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to support joint working. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, we have taken the content of two full-day face to face workshops and made the programme available online as a combination of self-study and live, interactive workshops.

Participants access the self-study via a learning platform called Blackboard. You will be sent details of how to access the platform at least two weeks prior to the first live workshop. There are four modules to complete in advance of Workshop 1, which should take around two hours in total.

Module 1- an introduction to the programme and the government’s Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health

Module 2a (for education professionals) - an overview of the mental health challenge in the UK, the factors that influence children and young people's mental health, and the job roles in specialist mental health services

Module 2b (for mental health professionals) - an overview of the mental health challenge in the UK, and job roles in schools and colleges that support children and young people's mental health and wellbeing

Module 3 - an overview of outcome measures, what they are, why they are important, and how to use the measures

Module 4 - a range of resources designed to support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

For Module 2, you will be asked to submit some feedback via Blackboard three working days prior to Workshop 1. The first live workshop will last three hours, during which time you will link up with other professionals in local health and education settings, share concerns and build partnerships with them, and use the CASCADE framework to plan services.

There are around six weeks between Workshop 1 and Workshop 2, during which time you will complete another three modules via Blackboard. These will take around two hours in total to complete:

Module 5 - an introduction to the 5P’s of formulation, and a case study exercise which utilises the model

Module 6 - a focus on anxiety, the impact this may have on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people, and how this may vary (including a case study about a young person experiencing anxiety and how they could be supported)

Module 7 - reflections on the action you have taken since Workshop 1, your successes and the challenges

For Modules 5 and 7, you will be asked to submit some feedback via Blackboard three working days prior to Workshop 2. During this three-hour workshop, you will discuss the content of the modules, progress made since Workshop 1, and plan next steps together.

In total, the programme will require around 10 hours of your time over approximately 8 weeks.

What are the benefits to me and my CCG?

With support from the Anna Freud Centre, you will lead the Link Programme in your local area. This gives you the opportunity to tailor the programme to the specific needs in your locality. You can also use it to support and develop other initiatives, such as Mental Health Support Teams.  

The Link Programme gives you the opportunity to play a lead role in shaping and delivering systemic change in your locality. It can help you to achieve your CCG’s objectives in line with the NHS Long Term Plan.

How do we know it works?

The Link Programme has been running for five years, and both the pilot and scaling up phase have been independently evaluated. The pilot phase ran successfully in 255 schools from 2015-2016. The programme was scaled up, with over 3,000 school/college and mental health professionals taking part in 2017-2019. It is now being rolled out to every school and college in England (because it is funded by the Department for Education, it will only run in England).

Two independent evaluations have shown that the Link Programme has:

  • Strengthened communication and joint working between schools and Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS).
  • Improved awareness and knowledge of risk factors and mental health issues relating to children and young people.
  • Improved understanding of mental health services, referral routes and procedures, and in some cases has resulted in the development of new referral procedures.
  • Enabled action planning and catalysed wider change.
  • Provided a better understanding of evidence-based practice.
How much does it cost?

The training is free to all participants, including schools and colleges. 

How do I get involved?

You will need to register your interest with us via our Registration of Interest form.

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