Introduction

The challenge

The issue of children and young people’s mental health is one of the most significant health and societal challenges today. One in every nine children between the ages of 5–15 has a mental disorder and surveys since the COVID-19 pandemic suggest these rates may have risen to one in six. Rates of referrals to UK child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) have increased by one-third since 2017 leading to long waiting lists with only a minority of children and young people (CYP) with mental disorders receiving care at any timepoint. These conditions cause suffering for CYP and their families as well as impacting on their longer-term educational attainments, employment opportunities and personal relationships. The majority of adult mental health disorders have their onset in childhood and adolescence, so early identification and effective intervention has the potential to reap longer-term benefits.

Our response

The Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People is a joint collaboration between King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience and the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust – the King’s Maudsley Partnership for Children and Young People. The ambition is to bring together leading researchers, including clinical and non-clinical academics, with Maudsley clinicians under the single roof of the Pears Maudsley Centre to tackle the challenges of CYP mental health. We are therefore seeking a Centre Director for the Pears Maudsley Centre. The Centre Director will have a specific remit to ensure the Centre achieves the benefits envisaged by its founding partners to improve outcomes today for children and young people and to drive clinical and research excellence to improve outcomes through integration and co-location. We are seeking to appoint a senior academic with experience of working with Children and Young People. The ensure the strategic effectiveness of this role, the Centre Director will also become the Head of Department for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Pears Maudsley Centre

The Pears Maudsley Centre is a £70M purpose-built centre at the heart of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience / Maudsley campus that will bring together the Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the National Specialist child and adolescent mental health services (including an in-patient adolescent unit) and a child- and family-friendly research facility with cutting-edge imaging methods, virtual reality and a digital lab.

The Centre has been designed with input from young people and their families alongside clinicians and researchers to provide a welcoming and therapeutic environment conducive to clinical research.

Overarching organizational structure

Work within the Pears Maudsley Centre is facilitated by the close working relationships between King’s College London and specifically the Faculty of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, the children’s and adolescent clinical directorate within the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the child and adolescent mental disorders clinical academic group within King’s Health Partners. There are close and collaborative working relationships between these organizations and the structures focusing on child and adolescent mental health in each organization provide excellent overlap for shared strategic planning.