In First Minister’s Questions today (January 14), Paul Davies AM pressed Mark Drakeford for an indication of when the Welsh Labour Government will take action to deal with child and adolescent mental health.
Mr Davies quoted figures from the Welsh Government, which indicates some 11,000 young people received counselling in 2017-18. He also quoted from a recent Barnardo's Cymru report, which confirmed that the number of children it helped in the past year rose by 56 per cent.
Mr Davies, who represents Preseli Pembrokeshire and has a keen interest in farming and rural matters, then pressed the First Minister for confirmation of its actions to support people in farming communities.
“Agriculture carries one of the highest rates of suicide and the remoteness of many farming communities means they are often geographically distant from mainstream health services, which may limit their access to support.
“Can you tell us what your Government is doing to support the delivery of more local, tailored mental health support networks across the country?”
Mr Davies also asked about mental health provision for older people in Wales.
Speaking later, Mr Davies said:
“I – and my constituents as well as many people throughout Wales – need to see further action taken to ensure that the support is in place for the people that need it.
“That a leading charity in Wales sees a 56-percent increase in the children that it helps in a year demonstrates the scale of the problem.
“And few who saw the deeply poignant memorial – of 52 pairs of Wellington boots, each pair representing a farmer who took his or her own life in Wales in the previous 12 months – at Pembrokeshire showground last year would not have been moved by the sight.
“Fifty-two farmers, one a week, had committed suicide. This tragedy all too clearly demonstrates the absolutely vital need for improved, tailored, and enhanced mental-health services across the country, including in our rural communities.
“It needs to be addressed now, to prevent a tragedy turning into a crisis.”