The College Engagement Network

The College Engagement Network (CEN) in England is a new initiative designed to improve the way the College gathers insight from and engages with our members at a local level to help inform our policy and campaigning work.

It will ultimately serve to help us influence national mental health policy development, and to support our members to advocate for College policy at a local level. The input we gather from working with members will ensure that our own understanding of local policy implementation reflects the insight of frontline healthcare staff and people with mental illness.

How does the CEN work?

The CEN is the first network of its kind launched by a medical Royal College. It will be led by its members, who will be representatives from mental health trusts in England, and from the College Divisions. The representatives will work closely with local stakeholders, including people with mental illness, and help to develop collaboration across their region.

The advice of the College divisions, members, mental health trust Medical Directors, service users, and other stakeholders have been sought in developing the network, and we will continue to seek their views as the network grows and evolves.

Where is the CEN operating?

The CEN is currently running in a pilot phase due to the Covid-19 pandemic, from winter 2020 to summer 2021. We hope to conclude the pilot and launch the wider network by the end of 2021. The pilot phase is taking place in three regions across England, and we have been working with the relevant College divisions in setting it up. Representatives are being recruited through mental health trusts and College divisions. The three pilot regions are:

  • Eastern
  • London
  • North West

What will the CEN focus on?

The network focus is on the implementation of the NHS Long Term Plan in England. For the pilot phase, we want to ensure focus on one aligned area to help us better understand how it should work and the impact we’re having.

We agreed the Community Mental Health Framework (CMHF) as the initial focus area for the pilot. The CMHF was piloted during 2020 in 12 Early Implementer (EI) sites, some of whom are involved in the CEN pilot phase. We hope we can get full representation from the trusts in the three pilot regions to enable representatives from some of these sites to share their insight on the implementation of the framework in their ICS or STP area.

All local areas (ICS/STPs) will be asked to implement the CMHF locally through 2021, as rollout is planned across England. The planning phase of this is has taken/is taking place from late 2020 through to 2023/24. We have developed eight key messages on the CMHF, for clinicians to use to help inform work they might be doing around community transformation.

How will it have an impact and support our work?

We hope that through 2020/21, we can use the information gathered and communicated through the network to:

  • understand how planning for the CMHF has gone in every local area where we have a CEN representative appointed
  • understand how the Early Implementer sites are planning to build on the work they’ve done so far during 2019/20
  • use the insight we’ve gathered to help inform our national level conversations with relevant stakeholders
  • communicate guidance out locally to each area where we have a representative
  • understand how local areas are preparing for upcoming changes and how they’re planning to recruit into new roles, including psychiatrists, to help deliver the new models of care.

How can I get involved?

We are recruiting members to the network through NHS mental health trusts in England and via the College Divisions, and to keep the network manageable we are only recruiting one member for each organisation. However, we would be interested to hear from those who would like to find out more, be kept up to date, or have particular expertise in working at ICS level.

We will also keep this webpage up to date, and share more information as the network evolves.

To find out more about the CEN, please contact Rosanna Flury, Policy Engagement Manager at

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