The Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for mental health to be put at the forefront of the next Welsh Government’s priorities as fears mount that the so called ‘hidden impacts’ of the pandemic could overwhelm health services as restrictions ease.
Mind Cymru stated last week that they had found that more than half of adults and three quarters of young people reported that their mental health had worsened during the lockdown period and that 18 per cent of adults and 39 per cent of young people who tried to access mental health support have been unable to do so.
Commenting, Montgomeryshire Liberal Democrat Candidate Alison Alexander said: “The pandemic has pushed mental health issues to the forefront of discussion for many of us. Increasingly we have come to realise just how many of us struggle with our mental health, most often alone and in secret from our loved ones and friends.
“Kirsty Williams has done a great job at securing investment in mental health services for young people during her time as Education Minister including securing over £5 million in funding for children’s mental health services in Spring 2020, funding for university students in October and an additional £9.4 million last month.
“But Covid-19 has shown that widespread support is required now more than ever and we need to ensure Kirsty’s work is carried on and the next government puts mental health at the forefront of the government’s priorities.
“Firstly, the Welsh government needs to commit to a wider review of its mental health strategy, identifying what changes will need to be made to tackle mental health in a post-pandemic world, including clearing backlogs and creating a more efficient system. Ideally, this should be done by a Mental Health Commissioner for Wales who would serve as a politically independent voice for individuals to champion their needs and advocate on their behalf.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats also want to see a significant increase of the share of NHS Wales funding for mental health over the next two Welsh Parliaments, a 24/7 mental health support hotline for health and care staff as well as the formal recognition of parity between mental and physical health. I also want to personally push the government to examine the feasibility and effectiveness of ‘walk-in’ mental health services in community hospitals and doctors’ surgeries. We already allow walk in appointments for a range of physical health conditions, why not mental health ones? Especially if they could make a life-or-death difference to those at crisis point.”