We must do more for mental health
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have long championed the idea that mental health should be taken every bit as seriously as physical health.
For too long mental health issues generally have been an afterthought for the health service and governments at Wales and UK level and many of those who suffer have been stigmatized. Thankfully that is changing and people have a far greater understanding of the subject and more empathy with the many who suffer.
There has recently been welcome investment and some improvement in mental health services but there is still a long way to go.
Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) have been a particular concern. The waiting lists for children who need to access these services are far too long and children who are in need of therapeutical services are not able to access them in a timely manner.
This is in part due to under investment in our educational welfare services. Some children who are being referred to CAMHS may not necessarily need to be, but there is nowhere else for schools and social services to turn. As a result those children and young people who do need specific mental health support and treatment have to wait longer. The Welsh Liberal Democrats want to see an increase in the use of educational psychologists in order to help ease the burden on CAMHS and on school staff and help those pupils who need support. CAMHS must be able to meet the needs of all those who require the service.
Over the next five years we would look to increase the relative size of the mental health budget to match the need. As many as one in four people in Wales are estimated to suffer from some form of mental health problem at some time in their lives/ These people need to be able to access appropriate treatment.
"Talking therapies" have a significant role to play. We would invest in therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Counselling, and Interpersonal Psychotherapy to ensure all those who would benefit from such therapies can access them. We would set and monitor waiting time targets for these services.
There were 541 reported incidences of people being detained in police cells as a place of safety under the provisions of the Mental Health Act between 2014 and 2015, of these sixteen were under the age of 18. This is just not acceptable.
In December last year the Welsh Government announced The Crisis Care Concordat which seeks to address this problem and which we hope will bring about some much needed change in attitudes, but want to see this strengthened. . People must be able to access help at any time of day or night so that wherever possible they do not reach crisis point in the first place wherever possible.
It would be unthinkable that anyone suffering from a serious physical health problem would be unable to access help at any time. The same should be true of those with mental health issues