Wefan Gymraeg

"Damning" report on Welsh children's mental health services released

A Welsh Assembly inquiry into Welsh Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) has found that the service "does not have capacity to meet the demands currently placed on it."

Over the last four years, there has been a 100% increase in demand for CAMHS, yet the Children, Young People and Education Committee found that evidence "overwhelmingly suggest a perception of significant under-capacity within specialist CAMHS and this was leading to long waiting lists and increasing difficulties in accessing the service."

The Committee also has expressed concerns over "whether the level of spend per child per head of population is appropriate".

Welsh Government statistics show that in respect of the spend per head of population in 2012:

  • £82.75 per head was spent on mental illness in general;

  • £58.18 per head was spent on elderly mental illness;

  • £13.94 per head was spent on child and adolescent mental health.

Aled Roberts AM, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Young People and a member of the Committee, said:

"There is no hiding from the fact that this is a damning report. Children and young people in Wales suffering from mental health issues have continuously been let down by the lack of appropriate services available.

"For too long the Welsh Labour Government has buried its head in the sand and ignored the catalogue of concerns and warnings that have been raised. The Welsh Liberal Democrats believe this issue cannot continue to be overlooked.

"There is a clear disparity in spending with regard to mental health. The level of spend per child per head of population is way behind that of adult and elderly patients. I see no valid reason for that to be the case and this should be looked at as matter of urgency.

"As a committee, we have seen evidence that the number of children being prescribed medicines has increased at an alarming rate. Many young people are being prescribed drugs without other strategies being explored beforehand. It is not a great leap to suggest this is happening due to the lack of clinical psychologists and therapists that are available.

"There is also an absence of services available to young people who do not meet the 'medical need' criteria from CAMHS services. The current criteria are narrow and exclude many people who need support which means there is a significant level of unmet need.

"The Welsh Liberal Democrats have repeatedly been the party in the Assembly that have championed mental health and deplored the lack of services available to young people suffering from mental health issues. We need a radical change in how things are done in Wales and we as a party will continue to lead the way on the subject.

"The Minister has recently announced a review into CAMHS in Wales. Whilst this is welcome, it is essential that this review looks into the underlying problems and that the recommendations are acted upon immediately."

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