The additional funding, being announced at the start of Children’s Mental Health Week, recognises the effect being away from school and regular support networks has had on young people during the pandemic.
The Welsh Government has already demonstrated that it is committed to addressing the issue of mental health across society and spends more on this than any other aspect of the NHS – with a protected minimum spend of £783m for 2021-22. This represents an extra £42m additional funding into mental health support, as it is not just young people who are struggling with this issue during the pandemic.
The Welsh Government has boosted support for mental health services because of the increased levels of anxiety in Wales during the pandemic, and the anticipated increase in mental health issues.
With research showing mental health issues predominantly start when people are children or young people, an additional £4m will be made available to improve access to emotional and mental health well-being support in schools as part of the Whole Systems Approach.
A further £5.4m funding will go towards CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) to support young people who need more intensive support, both in the community and in specialist mental health in-patient services.
There will also be more counselling and emotional support for school children available, contributing towards their overall health, well-being, emotional health and resilience.
With promising results after an interim evaluation of a CAMHS School In-Reach pilot programme, the additional funding means this programme could be rolled out to all of the schools in Wales building skills, knowledge and confidence, to support pupils’ mental health and well-being and improve schools’ access to specialist liaison, consultancy, and advice when needed
Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing Eluned Morgan, speaking during the launch of Children’s Mental Health Week today (1 February), said:
“This significant investment in mental health services for children and young people shows we recognise the impact the pandemic is having on them and are doing everything we can to improve access to support.
“We understand that getting the right support at the right time, in many cases, can prevent longer-term adverse effects, and that’s why we’re making access to support a priority.
“We continue to spend more on mental health than any other part of NHS and I’m proud that we are supporting our services with additional investment in the draft Budget.”
Education Minister Kirsty Williams said:
“Ensuring our children have access to effective mental health support is essential if they are to grow up to be healthy and confident individuals.
“As part of our whole school approach, we are working together both inside the school and those outside to make sure every child and young person knows where to go for emotional help and feels well supported.
“This £4m of will make a significant difference to this programme and will improve the resources and services available to children and young people in these challenging times.”
Minister for Finance, Rebecca Evans added:
“The pandemic is having a real impact on the mental health of people of all ages, not least children and young people. The support we are providing for mental health services as part of the 2021-22 Budget signifies our continued commitment to these very important services.”