Welsh Youth Parliament votes to prioritise mental health and wellbeing

Published 19/02/2022   |   Last Updated 19/02/2022   |   Reading Time minutes

Mental health and wellbeing will be one of the main focusses of the Welsh Youth Parliament over the next two years as they stand up for the issues that matter most to young people in Wales. 

The Members, all aged between 12-18, met for the first time today since they were elected by their peers in November 2021.

During the meeting, each Member made a speech on the subject they care about the most and believed should be the focus of the work of the Parliament. This covered a wide variety of issues, from LGBTQ+ issues and sexual harassment to poverty and homelessness.

After hearing from each Member, the second ever iteration of the Welsh Youth Parliament voted on their priorities for the coming term.

The three issues that the Parliament will now spend its energies on will be: Our Mental Health and Wellbeing, Climate and the Environment, and Education and the School Curriculum.

Llywydd of the Welsh Parliament, Elin Jones MS, and the Deputy Llywydd, David Rees MS, chaired the day’s proceedings which featured moving, personal statements from Members who had been directly affected by mental health and anxiety issues.

As the Parliament debated which key areas to prioritise in its programme of work, the Members also considered a nationwide poll of thousands of young people across Wales who had been asked what they think the Parliament should focus on.

Addressing the Members today, Llywydd, Elin Jones MS, said: “I am delighted that we, as the Welsh Parliament, continue to provide a platform for the young people of our country to discuss issues close to your hearts.

“Your contributions have been mature and significant as you represent the young people of Wales on the most important topics for you.

“It’s quite a privilege and a responsibility, but I’m in no doubt after listening to your speeches today that you have the talent and the enthusiasm to succeed. We look forward to hearing from you over the next two years.”

Keira Bailey-Hughes, the Welsh Youth Parliament Member representing the GISDA charity, said: “1 in 6 children suffer with a mental health condition but despite this, only 6.7% of mental health funding goes on child services. To fight the battle against mental health illness we need early intervention.

“People in the queer community are between two or three times more likely than heterosexual and cisgender people to report having a mental health issue.

“Throughout my adolescence I’ve suffered from mental illness - depression and anxiety have been a prominent part of my life.

“The general attitude towards mental illness is progressively concerning me; I fear that we’re raising the next wave of intolerance. It seems that we’re failing and beyond crisis point. We need to refocus our funding towards young people and future generations.”

The Members will now hold smaller group sessions to discuss their priorities over the coming months and consult with young people in their constituencies and partner organisations.