Mental health waiting targets for children and young people missed for five years running

  • Video report by ITV Wales Journalist Kate Lewis, followed by a studio chat.

The mental health charity Mind Cymru is calling for improvements to the laws governing mental health services in Wales.

It says young people here face much longer waits than adults for mental health assessments.

New figures show the Welsh Government target for 80% of children and young people to receive an assessment within 28 days of a referral, was not met in any of the five years to 2021.

Instead figures show between 2016-21, an average of just 58% of children and young people were seen within 28 days of being referred, while 83% of adults waited less than 28 days.

It's ten years since the Mental Health (Wales) Measure was implemented. The law, which was passed in 2010 was designed to improve people's experiences of accessing mental health services, including better access to early-intervention services and effective care and treatment planning for people receiving specialist support.

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Simon Jones, Head of Policy at Mind Cymru, said:

"We know that the pandemic has had a significant impact on people's mental health and access to support, but our report makes clear that many of these issues are historic. There is a clear inequality in children and young people's access to early support going back several years and this must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

More recent figures published by the Welsh Government show that children and young people continue to face longer waiting times than adults for mental health assessments. In March 2022, less than half (42.5%) of children and young people across Wales received an assessment within 28 days of a referral.

The report also showed people referred for an assessment of their needs do not go on to receive one. For adults, an average of 39,739 assessments were carried out each year which is less than two thirds of the number of people referred (56%). For young people, 5360 assessments were carried out each year, two thirds (66%) of the number of referrals.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We recognise the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on mental health services and we have provided additional funding to all health boards to reduce waiting times, improve services and treat more people.

"Young people's mental health should be central to all school experiences. We want to see all elements of schools working together to improve mental health. We are providing more than £43m over the next three years to support learners' wellbeing, train staff, and to extend and improve counselling support in schools."

For details of where to find help and support visit ITV's Britain Get Talking website which contains details of organisations who can help as well as information on how to support family and friends.