Plaid Cymru has called on the Welsh Government to urgently increase mental health provision in Cymru as new statistic show that waiting times have increased dramatically over the past year.
New figures published today from Stats Wales show that the average number of patients waiting over four weeks for their first sCAMHS (Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) had doubled since 2020.
When comparing the average total number of patients waiting for their first sCAMHS appointment for the period between January and July 2020, with the same period in 2021, the average combined (total) number of patients has increased by 40.4%.
Meanwhile, upon comparing the average number of patients waiting up to 4 weeks for their first sCAMHS appointment for the period between January and July 2020, with the same period in 2021, the average number of patients has increased by 14.83%.
The Plaid Cymru Spokesperson for Health and Care Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said that the pandemic had exacerbated mental health issues and that “quick access” to mental health services should be a priority.
Mr ap Iorwerth called on the Welsh Government to increase provision of this service or provide signposts to the alternative services that are available alongside providing more detail on the services that would be available for young people who need support with their mental health, but who are not ill enough to require advanced psychiatric treatment.
Plaid Cymru has previously proposed a network of mental health hubs across Cymru and Mr ap Iorwerth said he extended an offer to Welsh Government “to work with us in making this a reality”.
The Plaid Cymru spokesperson for Health and Care Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “The pandemic has taken a dramatic toll on the mental health of so many of us. Quick access to mental health services has to be a priority for this Government, now more than ever.
“It is astonishing that waiting times for mental health services have increased once again with the number of patients waiting over 4 weeks for their first appointment doubling in just a year.
“We know that access to mental health provision was already seriously lacking before the pandemic and whilst Covid-19 may have added to the challenges, this is not a new problem. Without a serious gear change we will be facing a mental health crisis in the middle of a public health crisis. This is unacceptable, it is having a detrimental effect on people's wellbeing and quality of life, and must be addressed urgently.
“The Welsh Government either needs to increase provision of this service or provide signposts to the alternative services that are available. We must have robust provision in place so that patients can receive the best possible treatment at the earliest opportunity, before their situation worsens, as we have seen all too often. It should also be providing more detail on what is it doing for this ‘missing middle’ of young people who need support with their mental health, but who are deemed not ill enough to require advanced psychiatric treatment.
“Plaid Cymru has already proposed a network of mental health hubs across Wales, and we again extend an offer to Welsh Government to work with us in making this a reality.