We welcome Welsh Government commitments to counselling in its draft 2020-21 budget, including funding greater support to school children, and young people in further and higher education.

The pledges closely mirror our policy priorities for Wales.

With a further £13 million to be spent on mental health services, it brings the total ring-fenced allocation in Wales to more than £700m in 2020-21.

Of this extra funding, £500,000 is targeted to support for the Whole School Programme, to provide counselling and emotional support for school children, together with an additional £2m from the education budget to extend the programme.

There is also an extra £2 million allocated to Higher Education and £2m to Further Education to build on their counselling and support services for students, staff training and innovative approaches in supporting mental health.

In recognition of the impact of mental health and the economy, the Welsh Government is investing £830k in its Healthy Working Wales programme, which aims to improve health at work, of which an allocation will provide fully funded support, including psychological therapy services.

Steve Mulligan, our Four Nations Lead, said: “We are pleased to see Welsh Government make a number of clear commitments to counselling in their draft Budget for 2020-21.

“These include to provide greater support to school children, young people in further and higher education, and for people in employment or those looking for work.

“These closely mirror a number of core policy priorities we sent to all Welsh parties in advance of this month's election, which aimed to widen access to counselling support.

“We would have liked to have seen more counselling allocated for older people, who have higher levels of treatable depression but don’t receive access to therapy. This is a growing problem as Wales’s population is ageing faster than any other part of the UK.”