Posted: Tue 20th Feb 2024

New strategies aim to change how we think about mental health in Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Feb 20th, 2024

The Welsh government has unveiled its new Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy along with the Suicide and Self-Harm Strategy, marking a significant shift in how mental health issues are addressed across the nation.

The draft strategies, out for consultation until 11 June, aim to change how we think about mental health, empower people to improve their mental health and remove the barriers and stigma around getting help.

With half of mental health conditions impacting people by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 23, there is a strong focus on prevention through ensuring everyone has equal access to the things they need to maintain good mental health, like exercise, the natural environment and belonging to the community.

There is also a focus on the wider causes of mental health and suicide prevention –including housing, employment and finances – and sets out work is needed across the whole Government and across sectors to improve mental health and wellbeing and to reduce suicide and self-harm in Wales.

Some groups are at greater risk of poor mental health than others and inequalities can contribute to poor mental health. This is why the strategies will promote equity of access, experience and outcome for all.

When people do need help, the strategies recognise that people’s needs are diverse and not everyone will need access to clinical or specialist mental health services. The aim is to build on the success of easy to access support like 111 press 2 and online cognitive behavioural therapy, alongside broader approaches to continue to improve support in schools and workplaces. This will provide a ‘no wrong door’ approach to support mental health and well-being.

Speaking ahead of the launch of the draft strategies, at The Hangout, Cardiff-based mental health and wellbeing hub for young people, The Deputy Minister of Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle said:

“Good mental health is as critical to our wellbeing as physical health, and it is affected by so many things in our lives. It is not just a health and social care issue; we need all parts of society and Government to work together to help people maintain good mental health.

“We need to change how we talk about and support mental health issues, to better reflect the needs of individuals. We have listened to a range of views in developing the strategies and people have told us not to medicalise mental health. For most people, whilst they do need support, they don’t necessarily need clinical or specialised mental health services.

“The centre hosting the launch today in Cardiff, is the result of partnership working between Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Platfform. It is innovative approach to providing trauma informed and compassionate support for young people in a safe and comfortable environment. We need all sectors working together, recognising their role in supporting mental health and well-being.”

Ewan Hilton, Chief Executive of Platfform, said:

“We are delighted to be at the Hangout today, as the strategy consultation is launched. The wellbeing hub here is an example of a new mental health approach we advocate for, which is judgement free, compassionate, and accessible. It is a place where people can connect to others and get support when they need it – and we are really proud of this approach.

“We will be engaging with the consultation, recommending progressive approaches and championing the excellent work already happening.”

Katie Simpson, Deputy General Manager for Children, Young People & Family Health Services at Cardiff and Vale UHB, said:

“The Hangout has allowed us to redefine how children and young people across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan access mental health and emotional wellbeing support.

“Our aim is always to ensure that children and young people receive the right support at the right time in the right place and hopefully The Hangout reaffirms our commitment to deliver this.

“It’s been a fantastic journey and seeing the ideas of your young people finally come to fruition through a coproduced service is an amazing milestone. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with young people and Platfform to develop and continuously improve services.”

Lynne Neagle continued:

“Suicide and self-harm have a devasting impact on families, loved ones, professionals and communities. Whilst suicide and self-harm are complex, they are preventable and never inevitable.

There is a prevailing misconception that people who die by suicide have a mental health problem or illness. This strategy will work to better understand the causes and who are the most vulnerable groups, so we can deliver rapid and impactful prevention, intervention and support.”

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