10 year high for percentage of people needing underfunded mental health services in Wales

  • A poll on the health of Wales has found that the percentage of people being treated for mental illness in Wales has reached a ten year high. mentalhealth.jpg

    Currently one in eight people in Wales are seeking medical help for mental health issues, reports Wales Online.

    Across Wales, 9% of adults reported currently being treated for depression, 8% for anxiety and 2% for another mental illnesses. People in areas of higher deprivation suffered the most with mental health problems, with as many as 18% of people in the poorest fifth of the country needing help compared with 8% in the richest.

    Alun Thomas, chief executive of Welsh mental health charity Hafal, said: “It’s clear where resources should be focused – on providing services for this very significant number of people. What’s clear from the survey is the need to increase the priority of mental health services, which are often referred to as the ‘Cinderella service’ of the NHS because of their level of funding. As a minimum, it is essential that the ring-fence for mental health funding is protected but this should be at a far higher level. Local authorities who read the survey results should respond by reducing cuts to the mental health services they provide and ensuring that any efficiency savings are re-invested back into those services. The cuts we have seen recently in community mental health services have had a had a very negative impact on patients, carers and communities. This, of course, has a knock-on effect for the NHS which has to support those people whose mental health has deteriorated as a result.”

    Professor Ian Jones, director of the National Centre for Mental Health, said: "The survey results suggest that the number of people in Wales being treated for mental health problems has risen significantly, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that more people are becoming ill. While this is a possibility - we know that environmental factors such as social deprivation certainly can play a part in the development of mental health problems – the reasons behind this increase may be more complex. For example, it is possible that as public understanding of mental illness grows and the stigma around it begins to lessen, more people are willing to seek help. We could also be seeing the results of more accurate diagnosis from health professionals. But regardless of the reasons for the increase, the results of the survey illustrate that mental ill health is a serious issue affecting many thousands of people in Wales. This underlines the importance of mental health research, confirming that now more than ever, Wales needs to play a leading role in researching better diagnosis and treatment."

    The Welsh Government responded by stating: "In Wales, we spend more on mental health services than on any other NHS service. We have ring-fenced mental health spending for a number of years and extended the mental health ring-fence from £389m five years ago to £587m in 2014-15. On top of this, In the last two months, we have announced an additional £8m for adult mental health services, £7.6m funding for child and adolescent mental health services and £1m funding for dementia link nurses and support workers announced in April, meaning that more than £15m of new funding is being made available for mental health services in Wales this financial year."

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