Youth mental health admissions skyrocket in Wales

The number of under 18s presenting at A&E in Welsh hospitals with mental health concerns has increased by 44% in four years, according to information obtained by the Welsh Conservatives.

1,141 minors attended Accident & Emergency departments in 2017/18 compared to 790 in 2013/14, with the figure rising year-on-year in the intervening years.

This is despite the Welsh Government’s programme “Together for Mental Health” which has had a significant focus on early intervention and identification of issues.

North Wales’ troubled Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board – which has been in Special Measures and thus under direct Welsh Government control for over three and a half years – recorded the most admissions, 329.

The second highest was Abertawe Bro Morgannwg which had 300-303, followed by 244 at West Wales’ Hywel Dda health board and 127-130 at Gwent’s Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.

There were 85 admissions in Cardiff & Vale health board, 48-54 in Cwm Taf health board, and 3-12 in Powys.

The two sites to see the most children and young people attend their A&E with a mental health diagnosis were Bridgend’s Princess of Wales Hospital and Wrexham Maelor which recorded 171 and 170 such admissions, respectively.

Last year, an Assembly committee held an inquiry into the mental health of children and young people in Wales. They said the Welsh Government’s response to their report had not been given “the respect they deserve”.

The data was obtained by Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Angela Burns AM via a Written Question to the Welsh Government. Commenting, she said:

“With the admissions criteria for CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) changing, it is clear that children and young people are not getting the support they need, and tragically are presenting at A&E in a bid to get emergency treatment.

“What Wales needs is innovative and substantive ideas such as increasing real terms mental health spending each and every year, increasing capacity of mental health services for children and young people, and establishing 24/7 crisis teams at all major A&E departments in Wales.

“All of these were Welsh Conservative manifesto commitments which the Welsh Labour Government should adopt to arrest the troubling rise in youth mental health admissions occurring on their watch.”