Anna Freud Centre runs the first National Centre for Excellence for children, young people and families’ mental health and is dedicated to improving mental health and emotional wellbeing. 

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Who we are

Anna Freud Centre runs the first National Centre for Excellence for children, young people and families’ mental health and is dedicated to improving mental health and emotional wellbeing. We have been pioneering better mental health care and support for children and their families for over 65 years. Our vision is a world in which children, young people and their families are effectively supported to build on their own strengths and achieve their goals in life. This requires systemic change to the way mental health care, treatment and intervention is delivered for truly long-term, sustainable benefits. 


Our Impact

We are the only children’s mental health charity to combine research and innovation, clinical practice, and training and dissemination, to make a tremendous difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of children and families with mental health problems.

We transform child mental health in five main ways:

  1. Developing, piloting and evaluating new, cost-effective treatments for children and families facing mental health difficulties.

  2. Researching the underlying causes of childhood emotional distress. Our research seeks to improve understanding of mental health and resilience, tests which treatments work best for child and adolescent mental health problems, assesses the impact of projects aiming to improve mental health services and uses neuroscience to investigate how the mind develops.

  3. Supporting mental health services to improve their practice, through the collection and evaluation of outcomes data and shared decision making.

  4. Offering teaching and training courses and building a global network of researchers, clinicians and mental health professionals, to ensure that new knowledge and ideas are shared as widely as possible. We train over 9,000 professionals and 300 students per year across the UK and internationally.

  5. Providing advice and leadership to national policy initiatives, focused on improving children and young people’s mental health, including developing the NICE guidelines for child mental health, working with the Department for Education to develop their guidance on mental health in schools and contributing to the Green Paper and Future in Mind report, which sets out a vision for how to improve young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Our integrated approach ensures we are not only delivering services but empowering service users by providing them with clinically tested, long-term skills and knowledge which enables them to support themselves beyond the often short-term life-cycle of a project or service.

Children, Young People and Families are at the heart of everything we do; we are committed to discovering and understanding the best way to help children, parents and professionals. We believe our impact comes from partnership and collaboration. The Centre works in close partnership with a wide range of service providers, voluntary sectors and academic bodies including the Tavistock Clinic, UCL and Yale. The Centre has a learning partnership with the Child Outcomes Research Consortium (CORC), a collaboration of child mental health providers committed to using outcome data to inform service improvement. The CORC central and regional support team is based at the Centre. Also within the Centre is the Evidence Based Practice Unit (EBPU), a service development and evaluation unit based jointly across the Centre and UCL committed to developing and using evidence to inform best practice.

The Centre leads on the Schools in Mind network with over 10,000 members and has supported the establishment of The Family School – an innovative provision providing excellent education and mental health support for children and parents together, for children aged 5-14 years excluded from mainstream education. This Spring, The Family School will sit side-by-side with the Centre in our new Centre of Excellence for child mental health – Europe’s first hub of academia, research, training and innovative clinical work for child mental health all under one roof.