A letter has been sent to the government to make it a priority.
The National Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee has today called for the Welsh Government to accelerate improvements for mental health services for children and young people in Wales. The Committee has written to the Welsh Government with a number of recommendations.
As a follow-up to the Committee’s landmark report on the emotional and mental health of young people in Wales – Mind over Matter, the committee is expressing concern that the NHS-led improvement programme, Together for Children and Young People, is coming to an end in October 2019 without adequate legacy arrangements being in place.
Together for Children and Young People was launched by the Minister for Health and Social Care at the end of February 2015 following an inquiry by the Children’s Committee in the last Assembly. Led by the NHS in Wales, this multi-agency service improvement programme exists to “reshape, remodel and refocus the emotional and mental health services provided for children and young people.” The Programme was established to run for three years but was extended to a fourth year, and is due to come to an end in October 2019.
Following evidence sessions, the Committee did not receive the assurances they sought - either from the Welsh Government, or from the Together for Children and Young People programme - that sufficient and robust arrangements are in place to deliver the improvements that services urgently need after the planned close of the programme.
The Committee is therefore recommending that the Together for Children and Young People programme is extended to ensure there are sustainable improvements in access to support services both in primary and secondary care through Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
The Committee is calling for the programme to be extended to coincide with the end of Together for Mental Health 2012-22, the Welsh Government’s 10 year strategy to improve mental health and well-being.
Writing to health and education Ministers, the Committee has also highlighted a number of other areas: including:
The urgent need to prioritise mental health awareness training for new and existing teachers in order to deliver a ‘whole school’ approach to mental health
A call for new guidance for schools on self-harm and suicide, developed in response to Mind over Matter, to be implemented in all schools in Wales
The need for urgent improvements in local primary mental health services for children and young people
The need for improvements in out of hours and crisis care
Urgent improvements in inpatient provision in order to meet the needs of children and young people at risk of suicide and self- harm.
Better transitions into adult services including considering the extension of CAMHS to age 25 to prevent young people being made to immediately transfer to adult services at age 18
Lynne Neagle AM, Chair of the Children, Young People and Education Committee, said:
“We welcome the new focus that the Welsh Government has placed on the emotional and mental health of our children and young people following the publication of our Mind over Matter report last year. In particular, it has been positive to see the work to develop a whole school approach to mental health being taken forward by a Ministerial Task and Finish Group as a result of our inquiry. We want to see that work continue with urgency and pace.
“However there is a long way to go before the whole system adequately supports children and young people’s mental health in Wales and urgent improvements are still needed in primary mental health services and early support, crisis care and inpatient provision.
“Having heard from ministers and professionals, we are firm in our view that the Together for Children and Young People improvement programme must be extended to ensure that all services are providing timely and appropriate support, from early intervention to the most specialist care for our most unwell children and young people. Without an extension to the Together for Children and Young People programme we believe the progress already made as well as the improvements needed would be in jeopardy.
“Mental health support for children and young people in Wales has been too limited for too long. As a Committee we have made it clear that we will not rest until all children and young people get the help and support they need and deserve.”