Hundreds of people across Wales are waiting more than a year to access psychological therapies on the NHS, according to a major new report from Mind Cymru.
The report, Too Long To Wait, revealed that between April 2019 and August 2020 thousands of people were left waiting for more than half a year to receive specialist psychological therapies. During that time, hundreds more waited more than 12 months.
Welsh Government aims for 80 per cent of people to access specialist psychological therapies within six months of a referral. Between April 2019 and August 2020, that target was never achieved.
Sara Moseley, Director of Mind Cymru, said: “This report shows clearly that people all over Wales are still too often having to wait an unacceptably long time for the right kind of help with their mental health.
“We clearly heard from people that accessing specialist psychological therapies can be life changing. The importance is acknowledged with improving access to these services being a key commitment of the Welsh Government’s ten year Together for Mental Health strategy. Unfortunately what we are seeing here is that, although some progress has been made, it is clear that people still struggle to access this support.
“There has rarely been a more crucial time to prioritise mental health, and a renewed focus and approach is urgently needed to help people when they need it most.
Coronavirus has had a significant impact on waiting times, when comparing the figures for August 2020, to the same period the previous year, we found that while the number of people waiting to start specialist psychological therapies fell significantly from 7,198 to 5,208, waiting times increased:
• The number of people waiting longer than 26 weeks increased by 4 per cent, from 2,146 to 2,228
• The number of people waiting longer than a year increased by 17 per cent, from 729 to 852
• The percentage of people waiting less than 26 weeks to start therapy fell from 70 per cent to 57 per cent
Sara Moseley added: “Being able to access help and support for your mental health is absolutely crucial in terms of getting well, and staying well. When you are having problems with your mental health, you need support quickly. To be told you have to wait for more than six months is very concerning and can lead to your mental health getting worse.
“It is important that Welsh Government acts quickly to improve access to the right sort of psychological therapies that have been proved to work. This includes making sure that staff on the front line have the support they need to deliver for people. We note and welcome indications that the Mental Health Minister is now providing a determined focus on delivery. We are confident that, with renewed urgency, significant reductions to waiting times and access to the right help at the right time is not only possible but can create a step-change in the support provided to those of us with mental health problems.”