Mental health – Welsh Government assessment
There have been legal or policy changes to improve human rights protections but very limited evidence of sustained improvements in the enjoyment of human rights on this issue
The Welsh Government has developed policy measures and provided investment to improve mental health outcomes. However, there are shortfalls in mental health provision, as well as inequalities in mental health treatment and outcomes for some groups sharing protected characteristics, including children and young people, and people from certain ethnic minorities. There are also concerns about the higher likelihood of suicide among people in more deprived areas. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed longer-term shortfalls between demand for mental health services and supply.
- The Welsh Government has announced increased funding for children’s mental health, including trebling funding for mental health support staff in schools. The latest figures, from July 2022, show that 57.1% of specialist child and adolescent mental health service patients wait more than four weeks for a first appointment. This is significantly higher than the 2019 figures from before the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A survey from the School Health Research Network found that the proportion of children showing depressive symptoms increased from 24% in 2018 to 28% in 2021.
- According to data shared by the Public Health Wales Observatory on mental wellbeing in Wales in 2020, Wales fares slightly worse than the other UK nations in rates of self-reported wellbeing. However, rates of people reporting high ‘life satisfaction’, feeling that life is worthwhile and happiness rose in Wales between 2013 and 2018.
- 3% of respondents to the wellbeing questions in the National Survey for Wales 2020/21 felt lonely.
- There are shortages of specialist professionals and long waiting lists for children who need mental health treatment. The Welsh Parliament (Senedd) Children, Young People and Education Committee inquiry in 2018 demonstrated the lack of progress in service provision for children and young people since the previous inquiry in 2014.
- A 2018 report from the collaborative Perinatal Mental Health in Wales project showed that women in Wales were benefiting from new specialist perinatal mental health support but barriers prevented some women from accessing these services.
- In 2018, a mid-point review of the Welsh Government’s five-year action plan on suicide prevention concluded that progress had been made and guidance and outcomes have been delivered. However, people from the most socio-economically deprived areas remain more likely to die from suicide.
- Despite an increase in funding, mental health provision in Wales is not meeting demand. The Senedd’s Health, Social Care and Sport Committee report of December 2020 showed a mismatch between the assurances given by local health boards and the experiences of people accessing mental health services during the COVID-19 It showed that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed longer-term shortfalls between demand and supply.
- Findings from the Public Health Wales Public Engagement Survey on Health and Wellbeing during Coronavirus Measures indicate that people from ethnic minority groups were more likely to feel anxious, worried about money and isolated than White people during the COVID-19 The Welsh Government updated the Together for Mental Health delivery plan 2019‒2022 in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Public Health Wales public engagement survey reported that only 50% of people rated their current happiness level as high (ratings of 7 to 10 on a scale of 0 to 10) in early November 2020, down from 69% in early May 2020.
Read more about the UK and Welsh Governments’ actions on mental health.