Young mental health services 'cannot cope', AMs say

Girl sitting on bed Image copyright Jupiter Images
Image caption AMs fear many youngsters are missing out on the right mental health treatment

Mental health services for children and young people in Wales cannot cope with demand, warn assembly members.

Problems for individuals become worse because treatment is not available, says a report by the Children, Young People and Education committee.

The number of youngsters referred to the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) doubled between 2010 and 2014, it found.

The Welsh government said it was already tackling the issue.

But in its report on Tuesday, the committee said it had "serious concerns" about CAMHS and asked if enough money was provided for the service.

Cash-strapped and waiting

  • Just over £200 per head of population was spent on mental health services in 2012
  • £58.18 went to elderly mental illness, only £13.94 was spent on child and adolescent mental health
  • The number of CAMHS referrals almost doubled from 1,204 in April 2010 to 2,342 in July 2014
  • More young people were waiting for mental health treatment (2,410) in May 2014 than the elderly (634) or other adults (1,291)

'Let down'

Local council cuts "will have a significant and on-going impact on wider provision", the report added.

AMs were also worried at the use of prescription medicines for younger children as the "only mechanism available to manage their conditions".

Aled Roberts, a Liberal Democrat member of the committee, said it was a "damning report".

"Children and young people in Wales suffering from mental health issues have continuously been let down by the lack of appropriate services available," he said.

"There is a clear disparity in spending with regard to mental health.

"I see no valid reason for that to be the case and this should be looked at as matter of urgency."

Committee chair Ann Jones AM said: "We believe that this is an important moment for CAMHS in Wales.

"It presents a much needed opportunity to modernise the service so that it is fit for purpose and able to meet the needs of children and young people in a modern Wales."

A Welsh government spokesman said: "We have already taken action to tackle the issues identified - with an extra £250,000 a year being invested in the CAMHS services to ensure more young people are cared for in Wales, reducing the need for costly out-of-area placements."

Health Minister Mark Drakeford previously told AMs he had ordered a "root and branch" review of CAMHS by Prof Dame Sue Bailey, past president of the Royal Society of Psychiatrists, to modernise the service.

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