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Welsh Assembly tackles mental health: 2019 update

Welsh Youth Parliament

During the first meeting of the Welsh Youth Parliament (WYP) held this week, the Welsh Youth Parliament MPs voted to prioritise issues including emotional and mental support for the next two years.

3,000 young people in Wales voted on what issues they would like the WYP to focus on. Emotional and mental support received 36% of votes, followed by homelessness with 27% and bullying with 21% of the votes.

The WYP consists of 60 MPs aged 11-18, 40 of which were democratically elected MPs and 20 were nominated by partner organisations. One WYPM, Lloyd Mann, expressed a wish ‘to see teachers trained in spotting signs of depression and anxiety.’[1]

The meeting held today was chaired by the Llywydd of the National Assembly for Wales, Elin Jones AM, who has previously highlighted the importance of the WYP’s choice, stating that ‘by giving this important issue a platform, I hope the Youth Parliament’s discussion will encourage more young people throughout Wales to talk openly with their peers about mental health.’[2]

Report on suicide prevention in Wales

The Health, Social Care and Sport Committee published a report focusing on suicide prevention in Wales in December 2018.[3] Since publication, the Assembly Commission has signed up to ‘Time to Change’ which signals a commitment to working towards ending the stigma surrounding mental health, this is in partnership with Mind Cymru.[4]

Recommendations included that the Welsh Assembly Commission offers training to Assembly Members and their staff on preventing suicide. The aim is to equip staff to respond appropriately to mental health concerns, with a wider ambition of being an example to other employers. The Committee highlighted the work of other employers, including Network Rail’s ‘Small Talk Saves Lives’ campaign.[5]

Stakeholders have told the Committee that the same importance placed upon CPR training should be applied to suicide prevention, noting that a GP is more likely to encounter a suicidal patient than one requiring CPR.

Additional funding

Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services, announced that an additional £500,000 funding per annum will be invested in national and regional support aimed at suicide and self-harm prevention initiatives. This includes support available to those who have been bereaved by suicide and training for public service staff to equip them to compassionately respond to suicide concerns.

An additional £7.1m will be used to improve and support the mental health of children and young people in Wales. This was announced in response to the Children, Young People and Education Committee’s report of 2018 focusing on the mental health of young people in Wales.



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