Breaking ground event a big step in transforming children’s mental health

Maudsley Charity supported centre providing mental health services for children and young people in London reaches major milestone with a virtual breaking ground event.

A world-leading centre providing mental health services for children and young people in London moved a step closer today with a virtual breaking ground event. Developed by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), King’s College London and the Maudsley Charity, the Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People is due to open in 2023.

Around half of adult mental health conditions begin by the time a child reaches 14, rising to 75% by the age of 24. Young people with conduct disorders are twice as likely to leave school without any qualifications, are four times more likely to become dependent on drugs and are 20 times more likely to end up in prison.

Current service users and their families, as well as researchers and clinicians, have been involved in designing the building. They particularly emphasised the need for some connection with nature, voicing a desire to be able to see and feel part of nearby green space. The design therefore incorporates landscaped outdoor terraces with extensive planting on each of the building’s eight floors.

The Centre has also received significant support from charitable foundations including the Pears Foundation and from individual donors. Sir Trevor Pears, Executive Chair of The Pears Foundation and lead funder of the Centre, joined service users and clinicians by video to reflect on their hopes and aspirations for the facility and the work that will be done there.

Trust Chair Sir Norman Lamb said: “This unique building will bring together a special partnership of the clinical excellence of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and ground-breaking research from King’s College London – which has the leading child and adolescent mental health research team in Europe.

“The centre will support our local south London community which has some of the highest levels of deprivation in the country, together with national services that are available to everyone in England while expanding the impact of our international reach.”

David Bradley, Chief Executive of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “After so many years of hard work, by so many people it is inspiring to see the building beginning to emerge from the ground. This project is rooted in partnership and collaboration and our collective commitment to improving the lives of children and young people has never been more important. Together we have the chance to achieve something life changing here and to improve the quality of life for generations to come.”

Rebecca Gray, Chief Executive Officer of the Maudsley Charity, which has contributed £10m to the project, said: “Today’s virtual ground-breaking event is a significant milestone in the development of The Pears Maudsley Centre and demonstrates the strength of our partnership. With support from philanthropists and the public we can improve mental health outcomes for an entire generation – and for generations to come. Our commitment is that we can ‘Change The Story’ on children’s mental health and the centre is the physical embodiment of that vision.”

Professor Shitij Kapur, President and Principal of King’s College London, said: “There is no other Centre like this in the world. Bringing together King’s leadership in mental health research with clinical excellence, will enable us to find solutions together and transform the landscape for children’s mental health. This will benefit our communities locally, national and globally, sharing best practice across the world to influence global policy and mental health outcomes.

“King’s College London and the Maudsley Hospital have played a leading role in responding to the pandemic with medical innovations that will bring lasting benefits to patients. It is this spirit of innovation and inventiveness that will drive the culture at the Pears Maudsley Centre.”

Today’s event, which included a short video of service users and senior NHS figures digging at the site, also comes as clinicians at SLaM and researchers at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, contribute resources to BBC Bitesize’s Parents We Got You campaign. Dr Bruce Clark and Dr Amita Jassi look at obsessive compulsive behaviours in children, teaching parents to recognise the difference between normal childhood worries and more excessive and troubling behaviour.

The fly-through video, together with the breaking ground ceremony video, are available to view here.


Notes to editors:
1) You can find more information about the Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People at

Journalists and the media can watch the full ceremony live on the centre’s Facebook page at

2) Much of the NHS capital contribution comes from the sale of Trust buildings that are not suitable for the delivery of 21st century mental health care and which will now be used for housing.

3) South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust is a large and complex multi-site provider of mental health services – providing the widest range of NHS mental health services in the UK. We aim to make a difference to lives by seeking excellence in all areas of mental health and wellbeing. We also provide substance misuse services for people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Our 5,000 staff serve a local population of 1.3 million people. We offer more than 260 services including inpatient wards, outpatient and community service. We provide care for 41,000 patients in the community in Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham and Croydon. As well as serving the communities of south London, we provide more than 20 specialist services for children and adults across the UK including perinatal services, eating disorders, psychosis and autism.

4) The Maudsley Charity works in partnership with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London to promote positive change in the world of mental health. We support innovation, research and service improvement, working with patients and families, clinical care teams, researchers and community organisations with a common goal of improving mental health. We are able to support work such as Change the Story though use of our own historic charitable funds and through financial support from donors and foundations who share our ambitions.

5) About King’s College London and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience – King’s College London is one of the top 35 UK universities in the world and one of the top 10 in Europe (QS World University Rankings, 2020/21) and among the oldest in England. King’s has more than 31,000 students (including more than 12,800 postgraduates) from some 150 countries worldwide, and 8,500 staff. King’s has an outstanding reputation for world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s is the premier centre for mental health and related neurosciences research in Europe. It produces more highly cited outputs (top 1% citations) on mental health than any other centre (SciVal 2019) and on this metric we have risen from 16th (2014) to 4th (2019) in the world for highly cited neuroscience outputs. World-leading research from the IoPPN has made, and continues to make, an impact on how we understand, prevent and treat mental illness and other conditions that affect the brain. @KingsIoPPN

6) For more information or to request an interview or images of the building design or photos from the event, please call Chris Mahony on 07812 692722.