have been closed, clubs have been shut, they can't socialise. All those things
have affected children, and they're very anxious, because there's a lot of
worry about coronavirus.” - Dr David Tuthill, from the Royal
College of Paediatrics and Child Health
has affected everyone, but a report published today (9 October) emphasises the
damage the pandemic is having on children and young people’s emotional and
on 9 October ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, the
Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee report, Mind overMatter: two years on, calls on the Welsh Government to do much more to help
children and young people.
taking evidence, the Committee believes that while there has been some progress
in schools’ approaches to emotional and mental health, changes to improve the
situation across all our public services – including in the NHS and local
government – are not happening quickly enough. The Committee believes the
impact of the current pandemic makes these changes more necessary now than ever
the same day, the Welsh Youth Parliament also launches its report on young
people’s emotional and mental health, Let’s talk about Mental Health,
after hearing the experiences of many young people across Wales. It too is
calling for more mental health support for young people.
Children and young people still struggling to find
its Mind over Matter report in 2018, the Committee stated
that a big change was needed in the emotional and mental health support and
services available for children and young people. The Committee was told by
those working with young people that not enough was being done to help children
and young people.
years on, with the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, the Committee is
launching its follow up report which shows that our children and young people
are still struggling to find the emotional and mental health support they need,
both at an early stage to help prevent problems developing and later, when
things have deteriorated and specialist care is needed.
its initial Mind over Matter report, the Committee has kept a close eye on the
Welsh Government’s work and has monitored how it is implementing its
recommendations. The Committee has taken evidence from Ministers, health
professionals and young people to inform this follow-up work, and has also
drawn on the findings of its ongoing scrutiny of the steps being taken by the
Welsh Government to manage the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on children
and young people.
We can and must do better
and Jeff Jones lost their daughter to suicide two years ago. Manon had just
turned 16 when she took her own life after suffering prolonged periods of
depression. Her death had a profound effect on her family, friends and the
wider community in Pontcanna, Cardiff. Since then her parents, and sister
Megan, have established the Manon Jones Foundation to offer practical support
and information to young people who are struggling with mental health issues as
well as to their friends and family.
mother, Nikki Jones says:
a family we really appreciate the scope of the Mind over Matter report in
driving a step change in the emotional and mental wellbeing of children and
young people in Wales.
us, it’s deeply personal. We have a Manon-sized hole in our lives and the lives
of her many friends as they embark on life after school without her. Manon
tried so, so hard to stay alive and, had she succeeded, would have made a
really great contribution to Wales we truly believe.
people, their families, their friends, their schools, all need help recognising
when struggles become overwhelming and, importantly, when and where to go for
help. When they access that help it needs to be timely, effective and safe
support, wherever they live in Wales.
years on from losing Manon and the publication of the Mind over Matter report,
it’s still too complicated, patchy and time-limited. The pace of change
achieved does not reflect the fact that the ultimate measure of failure,
suicide, is the biggest killer of children and young people. We can and must do
As part of its work on the pandemic, Dr
David Tuthill from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health told
are probably unlikely to be directly affected by the virus with physical
they have been affected by quite greatly is, if I could call it, collateral
damage—their schools have been closed, their clubs have been shut, they can't
socialise. All those things have affected children, and they're very anxious,
because there's a lot of worry about coronavirus, which they're hearing
about—their grandparents might have died, or they're hearing that thousands of
people have died.”
Neagle MS, Chair of the Children, Young People and Education Committee:
2018 our Mind over Matter report made it clear that we expected to see
significant and sustainable change in the support available for the emotional
and mental health of children and young people by May 2021.
we recognise the pressures placed on the Welsh Government and public services
by the coronavirus pandemic, we think the collateral damage caused to our
children and young people by this public health emergency means a strong focus
on the emotional and mental health of children is more essential than ever.
Between now and next May’s election, we will continue to push for change and to
hold the Welsh Government to account for its actions in this vital area.
original report said we were not willing to allow this issue to be passed on
yet again to a future Committee with repeated conclusions of “more work to be
done”. We intend to keep our promise to the people of Wales and do everything
we can to ensure that the Welsh Government puts our recommendations into
only 7 months until the election and the end of this Senedd, the Committee is
calling on the Welsh Government to pick up the pace and prioritise the issue.
The Committee outlines:
Change is not happening quickly enough
We know that what we are asking for is
not always easy, and we know that money is not unlimited. But we think this is
a top priority if we are going to get things right for the generations of
children and young people who will shape the future of Wales. More needs to be
done to make improvements more quickly.
We need whole-system change to be our
We recognise that lots of services are
doing lots of really good things to improve the support available for children
and young people. But we think that more needs to be done to make sure that
every service is doing its bit, and that they all work together. This is vital
to making sure that any child or young person – wherever they look for help –
can get the support they need.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic
makes progress more necessary than ever
While we recognise that children and
young people appear to be less susceptible to the coronavirus than adults,
there is little doubt that its wider effects―and the measures taken to manage
it―have impacted their lives significantly. These wider effects have been
described to us as the “collateral damage” to children and young people caused
by the pandemic, and include anxiety about periods away from school, clubs,
family and friends.
The report - Mind over Matter: two years on - is available here
Committee, along with those who gave evidence, has looked at each of its
recommendations from 2018 and assessed the Welsh Government’s progress. The
Welsh Government will now be asked to respond.