Young Minds Matter: mental health report summary

Mental health and wellbeing is a major issue for a lot of young people in Wales.

Data shows that this is a growing trend, and despite an increase in the amount of money spent on improving the situation, we as Welsh Youth Parliament Members know from our own experiences and from talking with other young people that the support available at the moment just isn’t good enough

Unfortunately, the findings of our consultation do not come as a surprise to us and reiterates our belief that there is a significant amount of work to do to if we are to see real change in young people’s emotional and mental wellbeing.


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Key findings

We heard that:

  1. The three biggest reasons causing young people to struggle with their mental health are - Work and exams at their place of learning. Relationships with friends and family. Browsing on, and being targeted or trolled on social media.
  2. 65% of young people told us they are struggling with their emotions and mental health at least once a fortnight, but only 23% said they had tried to get support.
  3. The amount of mental health support available in places of learning doesn’t meet the demand, with only 27% of young people saying the amount of support available was good.
  4. 44% of those who had received CAMHS support told us that they had to wait longer than the 28 day target for first appointments set by the Welsh Government, with 13% waiting between 6-12 months. 27% had to wait longer than a month for their second appointment.

Our conclusions


We found little to no difference in how often young people are struggling with their mental health, when compared with our survey carried out in 2020.

The findings of our consultation emphasise how important this issue is and strengthen our concerns as Welsh Youth Parliament Members that the actions taken aren’t showing the improvement we would like to see.

Young people are experiencing struggles with their mental wellbeing as much as they were two years ago, and while we recognise that the past two years have posed very unique challenges, we feel that this is in large part due to shortcomings in the way young people are supported. 

The additional toll that young people from marginalised communities face is also a big cause for concern.

They are not only dealing with the challenges common to what all young people face growing up, but also have to cope with bullying and abusive behaviour, which puts additional strain on their mental wellbeing.

This behaviour is unacceptable and needs to be addressed as a priority.



"A lack of treatment for those struggling with mental health can lead to anxiety, hopelessness, and a loss of control. But when this is turned around, we can become the people we are meant to be and find meaning in our day-to-day lives. Mental health is just as important as any other type of health."

Isaac Floyd-Eve - Welsh Youth Parliament Member, Anglesey


Identifying early signs of potential mental health issues is essential, and we do believe that young people are becoming more aware of their mental health, with a greater emphasis and more discussion, which is positive to see.

However it’s clear to us that more can be done to raise awareness further. We’ve heard consistently that accessing trustworthy information on where and how to get support can be overwhelming.

In the first Welsh Youth Parliament report on this matter in 2020, they recommended that a “recognised central ‘one stop shop’ for information, resources, and support” be established. Our evidence shows that this has not been achieved, as not enough young people are clear on where to go to access resources for support.

We think that the one-stop-shop is vital to get right. It should offer guidance to those with mental health problems, teach wellbeing and mindfulness exercises, show how to help someone you know who you think might need help, and signpost to other resources and helplines. This capital for mental health information and resources should be well advertised on a national scale.

Other concerns to us include the fact that stigma around talking about difficult emotions is still a major issue, and as a consequence the amount of young people who would then go on and seek help is low.

We welcome the Welsh Government’s whole school approach, and agree that mainstreaming mental health and wellbeing into all aspects of learning is the right approach to raise awareness and tackle stigma. We feel that these discussions are important to have consistently, and from an early age.

We heard from a number of young people who felt that places of learning need to create more safe spaces for young people to talk about their feelings, and to facilitate more opportunities for peer to peer support.

The results of our survey once again show that young people feel most comfortable talking to family and friends, and to a lesser degree teachers about their emotional and mental wellbeing.

We think it’s important that this is recognised and steps are taken to invest in providing family and friends with the tools to better recognise signs, signpost to and provide information that will help.

"While awareness is increasing, our ability to deal with this challenge is not keeping pace."

Laura Green - Welsh Youth Parliament Member, Delyn


We heard loudly and clearly that the amount of support available in places of learning doesn’t come close to meeting the demand.

We want young people who require support to be able to access it quickly, for that support to be of a good standard, and for there to be a continuity in the provision, but the findings of our consultation and our experiences as Welsh Youth Parliament Members tells us we are a long way away from achieving that.

In fact, we think we should be pushing further, by looking to provide young people who haven’t reached out with support, such as school counsellor services, as a preventative measure and to help tackle stigma. We feel this would result in a higher percentage of young people reaching out for help.

Stigma around accessing support at places of learning is a big problem. Steps need to be taken to tackle stigma, but places of learning also need to create environments where young people feel comfortable to talk. This is essential. Young people must have a positive first impression with accessing support or they may instead return to struggling on their own.

Again, these are themes which emerged in the first Welsh Youth Parliament's report back in 2020, which called for an increase in the amount of time counsellors are available to support young people and offer more support services where young people can remain anonymous. Despite there being an increase in funding from Welsh Government to expand on the schools counselling scheme, we don’t feel that enough progress has been made.

Resources need to be in place to deliver the support young people need. Many teachers and other professionals are already under a great deal of stress, so we think it’s important that the responsibility doesn’t fall on them alone, and that places of learning are able to bring in additional third-party support where appropriate. More needs to be done to support diverse groups of young people, to better understand the challenges they face. Training programmes for professionals who work with, and support young people should seek to address this.

There needs to be more touch points where young people are able to access help not only where they learn, but in the communities they live more widely.

The previous Children’s Commissioner for Wales advocated in their report ‘No Wrong Door’, that:

“Regions need to move rapidly towards a ‘no wrong door’ approach in responding to children and young people’s emotional wellbeing and mental health needs. This means that they should not keep being told that they are knocking on the wrong door when trying to access help. This could include early help panel or hub models, drop-in centres, models that make sure children and young people get the right help so that they don’t need to go away from home to receive specialist care, or plans for specialist residential care closer to home.”

Young people told us, and we agree, that more needs to be done here, and there needs to be consistency across the country.

"Make counselling more accessible to everyone with shorter waiting lists, and give more sessions for a longer period of time, so that you can go anytime like in the evening and on weekends as this might be the only time you feel comfortable going. Don’t just provide it in school and colleges."

Georgia Miggins - Welsh Youth Parliament, Learning Disability Wales


44% of those who had received Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) support told us that they had to wait longer than the 28 day target for first appointments set by the Welsh Government.

We believe that steps to encourage earlier intervention as we have outlined previously in this report would help reduce the burden on the more specialist support provided by CAMHS.

The first Welsh Youth Parliament recommended that CAMHS be reviewed as a matter of urgency, to reduce waiting times and provide the funding and capacity to provide necessary support.

Our consultation tells us that more work is desperately needed in this area as the issues our predecessor committee highlighted in 2020 are still as relevant today, and the impact it's having on young people in the meantime can be devastating.

We want to see CAMHS reformed and overhauled.

We know that the system is failing, and because of this we worry that that further financial investment will not have the desired effect.

"Desperately watching some of my closest friends writhe under the unwavering grip of a mental disorder and give up on getting help because the waiting lists are who-knows-how-long, and they know it wouldn’t do them any good anyway, is nothing less than a tragedy."

Isaac Floyd-Eve - Welsh Youth Parliament Member, Anglesey

Our Recommendations

What do we want to see change?

We call for:

  1. An increase in the focus put on mental health, and the amount of support available around exam periods to help young people during very stressful times.
  2. Steps taken to tackle intolerance when young people receive their education, to inform young people to understand different cultures, viewpoints and beliefs so that all young people are treated with respect and dignity.
  3. A recognised central ‘one stop shop’ for information, resources, and support, as was requested by the first WYP in 2020.
  4. Greater emphasis on ensuring that families and friends are equipped to support young people, including the provision- of training, information and materials to better enable those who young people trust and confide in to help.
  5. Places of learning to adopt the approach to embedding mental health and wellbeing into all aspects of the education experience, and for them to learn what works best in practice from one and other so that the experience is as consistent as possible for young people in all parts of Wales.
  6. An increase in the amount of places in the community, local support hubs where young people can access information, and talk to people about their mental health.
  7. Training programmes for professionals who work with, and support young people to improve awareness and understanding of the mental health challenges faced by young people from different backgrounds, such as neurodiverse people, those with a disability, members of the LGBTQ+ community, in poverty, and different ethnicities.
  8. Places of learning to be provided with the resources they need to deliver more timely, consistent, and on-going support of good quality to those young people who require help with their emotions and mental health, and look to mainstream support such as school counselling services to all young people, including those young people who haven’t reached out for help.
  9. Places of learning to create more safe spaces for young people to talk with other young people and professionals and do more to reassure young people that seeking support can be done privately and confidentially.
  10. Better support for young people at an earlier stage to lower the demand on CAMHS.
  11. CAMHS reform following a review of the service, in order to reduce waiting times, and improve the quality of support.
  12. Better connection between the different touch points that young people have with regarding their emotions and mental health, such as places of learning, CAMHS and AMHS.

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