Plaid Cymru Senedd Elections candidate for Llanelli Helen Mary Jones, talks of Plaid Cymru's pledged to create a network of 14 ‘youth wellbeing centres’ throughout Wales to support young people’s mental health.
Helen Mary Jones said that the walk-in centres would offer early intervention for young people who are not ill enough to require advanced psychiatric treatment but still need support for their mental health and are therefore vulnerable to “slipping through the net.”
Official figures show that in September 2020, more people were waiting for mental health treatment than any other condition.
The policy would be based on a successful model used in New Zealand and would revolutionise the way in which young people access mental health support.
Plaid’s policies on youth mental health provision have been supported by Bricks Magazine creator and editor Tori West, who frequently discusses mental health with her large following on social media platforms.
Ms West noted that Plaid’s youth wellbeing centres would be a “great step forwards for Wales”, and whilst reflecting on her own experiences said that she feels her symptoms wouldn’t have progressed as she got older had she had access to support when she was younger.
Plaid Cymru candidate and health spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth said:
“As a father of three young people, I know how hard the pandemic and all the challenges that come with it have been for their generation.
“That’s why a Plaid Cymru government would create a national network of 14 wellbeing one-stop shops in currently unused town centre premises where young people could get advice from counsellors and therapists.
“Research by Mind Cymru found that 74% of young people aged 13-24 said their mental health had deteriorated during the first lockdown.
“There is a real danger that these young people who are not ill enough to require advanced psychiatric treatment but still need mental health support could slip through the net.
“Fantastic work is already carried out across Wales by support centres and organisations, but such ventures need and deserve far more support.
“Plaid’s plans would aim to fill the large gap in provision which has grown under the last Labour government and send a clear message to Wales’s young people that we are firmly on their side.”
Tori West, mental health advocate and editor and creator of Bricks Magazine and said,
“Plaid Cymru’s policies on youth mental health is a great step forwards for Wales, and it’s important to me in particular because of my own experiences within the system.
“Early intervention and early access before someone reaches breaking point is crucial, something that the Youth Wellbeing Centres would play a huge role in.
“Young people being able to walk into these centres and access support when they feel they need it is imperative, as well as there being more provision of CBT and rehabilitation for those with eating disorders.
“I feel as though if I had been offered more support earlier in life it would have prevented me from having worse symptoms as I got older.”