A week after the National Education Union called for wellbeing officers to be introduced to Welsh schools, the Government have responded by committing £1.4 million to provide support for pupils showing early signs of anxiety, depression and self-harm.
Alarming statistics in a rise of young people self-harming followed data presented last year that showed a rise of 3,000 referrals presented to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Wales.
However, the scheme that utilises NHS staff to work with suffering pupils, is only guaranteed for two years and will be rolled out in the East of Wales initially. CAMHS have been criticised in recent years for not keeping up with their workload, yet with the NHS also stretched for resources, it remains to be seen if they can also maintain the provision identified for this upcoming trial.
Social media has been blamed for the rise in mental health cases, with youngsters becoming depressed when they see everyone’s best images presented on platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. Such concerns are being supported by Evolve Health Mentors across Wales and England and they have recently introduced health and wellbeing toolkits to track the progress of each individual.
The objective for both the Welsh Government and Evolve is to catch the concerns at an early stage before they develop into even greater problems. Health Secretary Vaughan Gething explained, “one in four people in Wales will experience mental health problems at some point in their lives. Getting the right treatment at an early stage, coupled with a greater awareness of conditions, can in many cases prevent long-term adverse impacts.”