Welsh health minister says 'devolution is working for mental health in Wales'

Date Published: 11 Jun 2014 @ 16:40 PM
Article By: Sue Learner, News Editor

Devolution has enabled Wales to take a different approach to mental health policy to the rest of the UK - a decision that’s making a positive difference to people suffering from mental ill health, according to Health Minister Mark Drakeford.

The Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010, legislation designed to improve the quality of care for people with mental health problems, and Together for Mental Health, the new, age-inclusive, whole-population strategy for mental health and wellbeing, is making real change and driving improvements in services, claims the Welsh Government.

Professor Drakeford, who recently led a debate in the Senedd about mental health services in Wales said: “One of the achievements of devolution is that a very different path has been adopted in Wales when it comes to mental health policy.

“During the first decade of this century, the emphasis in some places was on the dangers posed by mental illness to public safety and the focus was on restricting the liberties of those believed to create such a risk.

“Our focus has been to support a range of initiatives to help individuals maintain good mental health and emotional wellbeing; to adopt techniques which enable people to recognise and self-manage mental and emotional problems when these arise and to support those with problems effectively.”

He added: “Here in Wales, while many of the initiatives we have seen and the progress I am reporting may not hit the headlines, change is happening, and it is making a significant and positive difference for those whose lives are affected by mental health problems.”

Under the Mental Health Measure, local primary mental health support services are available in all areas of Wales. Waiting times for assessment and treatment continue to improve - in the last 10 months more than 31,000 people were assessed and supported closer to their homes in local surgeries or other community facilities.

Care and treatment plans for people receiving secondary mental health services are in place for more than 90 per cent of those who require them and more than 1,100 people have used their new right to re-refer themselves back to services.

The expanded independent mental health advocacy service has also been reported across the board as making a positive difference – for patients and staff.

A review of the Mental Health Measure, which was published earlier this year, highlighted widespread support from service users and carers, who said they felt the Measure was making a real difference in improving outcomes.

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