GP referrals for mental health support drop during pandemic as people 'reluctant or unable' to get help

  • Watch the full report by our Health Correspondent James Crichton-Smith

The number of people being referred for specialist support for their mental health has fallen during the coronavirus pandemic, latest figures show.

Local Primary Mental Health Support Services (LPMHSS) are accessed through a referral by a person's GP and include therapies like counselling or stress and anxiety management

Figures released on Wednesday show a drop of more than a quarter for people in Wales being referred for these services compared to last year.

Figures also show the amount of therapeutic interventions for mental health also fell by just over 10% during the same period.

Mental health charity, Mind Cymru, say they are concerned that the mental health impact of the pandemic is yet to be fully understood.

The charity report that despite mental health services being deemed an essential service by the Welsh Government, people have either been ''reluctant or unable'' to access the support they need.

Luke felt let down when he wasn't offered a referral for more support for his mental health Credit: ITV Wales

Luke Jones spoke to his GP when he faced problems with his mental health but says he felt let down when all he was offered was antidepressants.

As a Student Support Officer, he is aware of what services should be available to him.

He said: ''I know what's out there so for it not even to be mentioned or to be given a leaflet.

''I know you can't have face to face consultations but the fact that that's not even offered I think that's really disappointing.''

Credit: ITV Wales

Speaking at Wednesday's coronavirus briefing, Health Minister Vaughan Gething said that improvements in provision have been made.

He said: ''I would accept that anyone who is in a position where they haven't got the help that they want...I understand why those people would be frustrated but objectively its undeniable that we've seen real improvements in mental health provision and services over the course of this term.''

Mental Health charity Mind Cymru say more work needs to be done to ensure mental health strategies are ''delivering for everybody.''

Simon Jones, Head of Policy, at Mind Cymru said: ''We need to be continually vigilant that that support is there, accessible where people need it and when people need it so that their conditions don't deteriorate and they feel like they're unsupported during a period where it's absolutely crucial that people are seeking help.''