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 by Ecorys. 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.

The programme 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 two workshops delivered at least six weeks apart between January and November 2018. The workshops bring together education and mental health professionals and draws on evidence-based approaches to training and system transformation. As part of the programme, each area has designated a Mental Health Lead who takes part in the workshops. 

The workshops utilise 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.

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 pilot phase of the evaluation to assess sustainability, scalability and learnings over the longer-term.

For any questions relating to the CASCADE programme, please email