Not enough progress has been made in improving mental health services in Wales - despite an increase in Welsh Government funding.
That’s the conclusion of a report launched today by the Welsh Youth Parliament’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Committee.
The 'Young Minds Matter' report will be presented at a special Senedd meeting this morning, where the Welsh Government deputy minister responsible for mental health, Lynne Neagle MS, will face questions from Welsh Youth Parliament Members.
Among them will be the report’s key question: Why does mental health support remain such a major issue for young people in Wales, despite more money being spent on the problem?
Today’s report follows on from work done to identify issues in the previous youth parliament, which published the Let’s Talk about Mental Health report two years ago. Many of the problems detailed then remain as important now.
The Committee was also informed by the biggest ever response to a Welsh Youth Parliament consultation, which included a survey completed by 3,679 young people.
Unfortunately, the findings of that consultation were unsurprising and show there is a lot of work to do on improving young people’s emotional and mental wellbeing.
It showed that 28% of respondents struggle with feelings of mental health every day - the same percentage as 2020’s survey.
Isaac Floyd-Eve, Welsh Youth Parliament Member for Anglesey and mental health committee member, said:
"Mental health is just as important as any other type of health.
“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."
“Watching some of my closest friends writhe under the grip of a mental disorder and give up on getting help because the waiting lists are who-knows-how-long is nothing less than a tragedy."
The report makes 12 recommendations designed to improve access to support in schools, awareness and understanding, and support from specialists.
They include a call for an overhaul of CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) support as a matter of urgency.
Survey respondents were highly critical of the current CAMHS system: 44% of respondents said they had to wait longer than the Welsh Government’s 28 day target for first appointments. 13% said they waited between 6-12 months.
Of those who did get CAMHS support, 39% of young people said the support was bad. Many comments gathered through the consultation said they felt the system didn’t have the capacity to meet the demand, and that they felt like they were rushed through the process.
Today’s plenary session, chaired by the Llywydd, Right Honourable Elin Jones MS, is part of the Welsh Youth Parliament residential weekend which also includes updates on the work of other Welsh Youth Parliament committees, a tour of the Senedd and activities for members.
Members will also be given a chance to raise issues that are important to them through a series of 90 second statements.