On a visit to Wales, Lib Dem health spokesperson Norman Lamb has supported calls by the Welsh Liberal Democrats for better care for children with mental health problems.
Norman is also calling on the NHS in England and Wales to tackle the cliff-edge at 18, when children can lose all mental health support at one of the stages in their life when they need it most.
Here in Wales, Welsh Liberal Democrats have been challenging the state of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) which, according to the Children, Young People and Education Committee simply “cannot cope with demand”.
Norman Lamb visited mental health charities in Brecon, joined by Roger Williams MP and Kirsty Williams AM. They met mental health service users to hear their views on local services.
Roger Williams Said:
“Mind is a local lifeline for many people in our community. It is friendly, welcoming and supportive and Val Walker and her team were excellent hosts for our open session with staff and service users.
“Mind welcome anyone during 'open door' sessions or by appointment and offer a range of healthy activities, courses and workshops designed to support and empower people experiencing mental distress to move towards recovery. They have serious concerns about the back to work programme and its effect on people with mental health issues which is something I am working on with them and the Department of Work and Pensions.”
Speaking on his visit to Cardiff earlier, Norman Lamb said:
“Here in Wales I have seen some really excellent mental health services and spoken to dedicated staff both in the NHS and in mental health charities, working hard to give the best possible care.
“But the Welsh Lib Dems have also been right to highlight the disparity between spending on children’s mental health and on adult mental health. If a young child doesn’t get the help they need quickly when they experience mental health problems, it can damage their education and development – potentially having a knock on effect on the course of their entire life. Reform is needed, and we cannot afford to fail our younger generation.
“The Liberal Democrats have made mental health one of our top priorities. It simply isn’t fair that people with a physical health problem often get much better care than those with a mental health problem, and that needs to change. I am delighted that the Welsh Liberal Democrats are campaigning to get mental health the recognition it deserves.”
Roger Williams MP for Brecon and Radnorshire said:
“I was pleased to introduce Norman to the Interim Chief Executive Carol Shillabeer and her staff at Bronllys Hospital. Their hard work to improve mental health provision in Powys should be commended. I saw first-hand how interactive internet based counselling, funded through European money, which combined with school counselling, means that children can be seen face to face. There has been an increased take-up of this service which shows how effective this initiative is. Powys Teaching Health Board have also secured funding for video links between psychiatrists and GPs which will seriously reduce travelling for patients and staff.
“We also visited the Velindre Ward at Bronllys and met with Penny Price the Ward Manager and staff there who work tirelessly to ensure that those admitted receive the very best of care. I was pleased to hear that the length of patient stays in Velindre Ward have been reduced.”