Mental Health Services and Schools Link Programme (CASCADE)

Bringing together mental health leads in schools and colleges and Children and Young People's Mental Health Services (CYPMHS) to embed long term collaboration and integrated working.

This ground-breaking programme helps CCGs and Local Authorities work together with schools and colleges to provide timely mental health support to children and young people. It empowers staff by brokering contact, sharing expertise and developing a joint vision for CYP mental health and well being in each locality.

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The programme was successfully piloted in 2015/16 in 255 schools and CYPMHS across 27 CCGs in England and was independently evaluated. The DfE have now commissioned the AFNCCF to deliver the programme to a further 20 CCG areas and up to 1,200 schools and colleges.

We are delighted to invite you to take part in the programme which will:

  • Develop a shared view of strengths and limitations and capabilities and capacities of education and mental health professionals
  • Increase knowledge of resources to support mental health of children and young people
  • Ensure more effective use of existing resources
  • Improved joint working between education and mental health professionals

The programme comprises of two workshops delivered at least six weeks apart between January and November 2018. The workshops bring together education and mental health professionals, taking a blended learning approach, which draws on evidence-based approaches to training and system transformation. 

To support this work, we use our CASCADE framework which focuses on the following key elements of partnership working:

  • Clarity on remit, roles and responsibilities of partner organisations
  • Agreed best use of key points of contact in schools and CAMHS
  • Structures to support shared planning and collaborative working
  • Common approach to outcome measures for children and young people
  • Ability to continue to learn and draw on best practice
  • Development of integrated working to promote rapid and better access to support
  • Evidence based approach to intervention

The evaluation of this phase of the programme is being conducted by Ecorys, building upon their evaluation for the previous phase. The current evaluation plan for newly successful areas is based around understanding how various approaches are implemented, how well they work (including sustainability and scalability), and what lessons can be learned. This involves a relatively “light touch” approach, involving only three key stages:

  • Shortly after the first workshop: Each area provides basic information on their plans by completing an electronic form (approx. 15 minutes only)
  • Towards middle/end of the programme: A smaller number of areas (around six) will be selected to take part in a case study. This will involve a two day visit with interviews/focus groups with key staff, school leads and other relevant personnel. This will also involve visiting at least one school. Ecorys will work with any selected areas to develop a plan that takes into account the needs and situation of each area
  • At the end of the programme: Each area provides follow-up information on how their plans developed, what was delivered and what the outcomes were. Again this will require completion of an electronic form and take around 15 minutes

A final report will be produced at the end of the evaluation which will be publicly available. This will also contain evidence from a concurrent study following-up schools involved in the initial phase of the evaluation to assess their sustainability, scalability and learnings over the longer-term.

For more information please refer to the FAQs. If you would like to know more we will be hosting a webinar on Wednesday 4 October about the programme where you can ask further questions. You can also email with the subject line, Mental Health Services and Schools Link Programme: Query. 

To apply to take part in the programme please complete the expression of interest form by 5pm on Friday 20 October.