Improving access to psychological therapies is a key commitment of the Welsh Government’s ten year Together for Mental Health Strategy. It is a goal that has been restated in each of the strategies’ subsequent delivery plans, with targeted actions aimed at realising its ambition.
However, eight years on from the strategies’ publication, our research paints a challenging picture. Whilst there has no doubt been progress over the course of the strategy, it is clear that people still struggle to access this support, still face a lack of choice and still wait too long. A renewed focus and approach is urgently needed to deliver the strategies’ ambition.
In each month from April 2019 – August 2020, thousands of people across Wales were waiting longer than the 26 week target to access psychological therapy, with hundreds of people waiting more than a year
The target for 80% of people to be seen within the 26 week target was not met in any of the 17 months to August 2020
There is significant variation across Health Boards on the numbers of people waiting for psychological therapies per head, this suggests differences in service capacity and thresholds for support that requires further exploration
Coronavirus has had a significant impact on access to psychological therapy and has exacerbated pre-existing issues, with less people accepted onto waiting lists and more
“The therapy I eventually received was excellent, in a hard way. It was the first time I felt truly heard after years in the mental health services.”
Read our report to find out more.
We are calling on the Welsh Government and NHS Wales to:
Reduce the 26-week waiting time target for psychological therapies over the course of the next Senedd term with a clear and detailed timeline that sets out how this reduction will take place
In partnership with Health Education and Improvement Wales, develop a training and recruitment program to increase NHS Wales’ capacity to deliver psychological therapies, setting out what actions will be taken in the short, medium and long term with clear milestones for delivery
Ensure people accessing psychological therapies are able to make an informed choice on the range of psychological therapies available and receive clear information on how long they will be expected to wait and crucially, what support they will receive in the interim