An Audit Committee report into adult mental health services in Wales was this week presented to the National Assembly (Wednesday 19 July). The Committee identified that there are still too many people with mental health problems in Wales not getting the vital support they need.
The report called for urgent action in a number of areas in order to bring services in line with the standards outlined in the National Service Framework (NSF) for adult mental health.
Although the Assembly has identified mental health as a key priority, mental health services are not always a local priority resulting in wide variation in provision across the country.
The report recommends more scrutiny of local strategies by the Assembly Government and has urged the NHS, local government, public health and voluntary sector to work together to:
• strengthen local planning and commissioning arrangements for adult mental health services;
• address gaps in key elements of service provision;
• improve joint working between all those involved in mental health care; and
• seek the views of users and carers when planning services and designing packages of care.
One of the Committee’s key findings is that service users and carers across the country still complain of specialist support only being available when they are experiencing a crisis.
For Richard Mayes – a Hafal client from Swansea who became mentally ill 11 years ago – early intervention is vital. Talking of his experiences as a mental health service user Mr Mayes said:
“It took about six months for me to see a counsellor. I ended up seeing three different ones. It was about a year and a half later that I finally saw a psychiatrist. It’s taken 11 years just to get the medication right.”
The Welsh Assembly Government has acknowledged it still has some way to go to modernise mental health services throughout Wales and welcomed the audit report as “a useful tool in helping deliver the improvements we are determined to see over the next three years.”
To read the Audit Committee report click here.