Mental health services rated poor by users
MORE than a third of people with experience of mental health services in Wales have rated it as “very poor” in an exclusive poll conducted by our website WalesOnline to mark World Mental Health Day.
Hundreds of people were asked to complete an online survey which asked for their opinions about the state of mental health provision across the country.
On a scale ranging from “very poor” to “very good”, 180 of respondents (36.59%) rated the quality of mental health services in their area as “very poor”, with 166 (33.74%) describing it as “somewhat poor”.
In contrast, just 25 (5.09%) people said their experiences of mental health services were “very good”.
When asked what improvements needed to be made in mental health provision, 414 (83.98%) said it needed more funding and 408 (82.76%) said access to counselling needed to come earlier.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they felt mental health services did not have “parity of esteem” with physical health.
Sara Moseley, director of Mind Cymru, said: “These survey results show that mental health problems are a part of life, either directly or indirectly, for the vast majority of people in Wales. We are talking about mental health more, which is very important.
“There are lots of good policy initiatives but people are telling us there needs to be a breakthrough in terms of accessing services when they need them. The big challenge for Wales is to make that link between good intentions and a change in people’s experiences, wherever they are in Wales.”
The majority of people who took the survey – 489 out of 493 – either had experienced mental health problems first-hand or had a family member with a related condition.
Positively, 73.91% of respondents with a mental health problem had accessed some form of support – and just 4.57% had kept their mental health condition to themselves.
The most common way of managing and improving their mental wellbeing was through sport.
But worryingly, more than half (55.51%) said they experienced stigma or discrimination because of their illness.
Alun Thomas, chief executive of mental health charity Hafal, said: “Hafal is led by its members – people directly affected by a mental illness – so we are keenly aware of the state of services in Wales.
“Our experience is that mental health services vary considerably across Wales in availability and quality.
“Mental health is often called the ‘Cinderella service’ because of the small proportion of funding it receives in comparison to physical health. We need parity of funding.
“We are also witnessing the impact of austerity on local authorities and their budgets, with a huge increase in demand on local mental health services which are struggling.
“We need local authorities to reinstate funding of specialist mental health services to relieve this pressure.”
The Welsh Government said supporting people with mental health is one of its “top priorities”.
A spokesman said: “We continue to spend more on mental health services than on any other part of the Welsh NHS, with funding increasing by £20m to more than £629m this financial year.
“Over the last two financial years, we have announced more than £22m of new funding for mental health services.
“This includes a £3m investment in psychological therapies for adults.”