Mental health – Welsh Government assessment
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 for people in more deprived areas. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed longer-term shortfalls between demand for mental health services and supply.
- According to data shared by the Public Health Wales Observatory on mental wellbeing in Wales (2020), reports of mental wellbeing suggest that Wales fares slightly worse than the other UK nations. However, rates of ‘people reporting high life satisfaction, feeling that life is worthwhile and happiness appears to have risen in Wales between 2013 and 2018’.
- There are still shortages of specialist professionals and long waiting lists for children who need mental health treatment. The Senedd’s 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 are benefiting from new specialist perinatal mental health support, but barriers prevent women from accessing these services.
- In 2018, a mid-point review of 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. Suicide rates in Wales can show ‘volatile patterns’ due to the smaller number of people involved, but both the male and female rates in 2019 were similar to that in 2018.
- 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 Health Boards and the experiences of people accessing mental health services during the coronavirus pandemic. It showed that the pandemic has exposed longer-term shortfalls between demand and supply.
- Findings from the Public Engagement Survey on Health and Wellbeing during Coronavirus Measures indicate that people from ethnic minority groups are more likely to feel anxious, worried about money, and isolated than White people during the coronavirus pandemic. The Welsh Government updated the Together for Mental Health delivery plan 2019‒2022 in response to the impact of the pandemic, but it is too early to assess the impact of the updated plan.
- 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.