Brain Sciences


HRH The Duchess of Cambridge launches Centre of Excellence to drive change for child mental health

14 May 2019

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of the Anna Freud Centre officially opened the new Anna Freud Centre of Excellence which aims to drive change in children and young people’s mental health.

anna freud building opening

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, and Head of UCL’s Division of Psychology and Language Sciences said: “Childhood mental health disorders have reached unacceptably high levels. As a society, we have a moral imperative to drive change on children’s mental health. Opening our new building is our contribution to this – giving parents, communities and practitioners the skills, knowledge and support to help children build their health and wellbeing, and the confidence to seek professional help when needed.”

The Anna Freud Centre is responding to the challenge of child mental health by bringing together the best in research, clinical expertise and training under one roof. It hosts a range of UCL postgraduate programmes from Postgraduate Certificate to Doctoral level for over 20 years, and in addition, there are two research units that the Centre and UCL collaborate on, Evidence Based Practice Unit and Child Attachment and Psychological Therapies Research (ChAPTRe).

anna freud centre of excellence launch

Building on 60 years’ experience, the organisation’s new Centre of Excellence will help turn cutting edge research into policy and practice that can give more children and young people the help they need, when they need it.

The new building, the Kantor Centre of Excellence for children’s mental health is a purpose-built space where leading neuroscientists and practitioners in mental health, social care and education will work together with children and young people to transform mental health for them and their families. At the heart of the new centre is the ground-breaking Pears Family School, a school for children who have been excluded from mainstream education.

The opening will be hosted by the broadcaster and journalist and mental health advocate Kate Silverton who says: “There’s never been a greater need for leading experts across all disciplines to come together to meet the challenge of helping young people with their mental health and wellbeing. This Centre provides an extraordinary new home for children and their families. For me, the Anna Freud Centre’s commitment to the individual, working with them holistically is the key to providing the right support at the right time. I’m delighted to be part of this great day.”

The Anna Freud Centre’s work includes early intervention with parents and babies, through to promoting positive mental health in schools, through to clinical support for some of the most vulnerable children and young people including those in care.

“There are real, practical ways in which we can do more to help children and their families. Early intervention focused on child emotional wellbeing is probably the most effective social investment any society could make, both from an economic and moral perspective. Through our new Centre, we can deliver on our vision of a world where children and families are supported to build on their strengths to achieve their goals in life,” said Professor Fonagy.