We're pleased to see the new Programme for Government for Wales includes important commitments to prioritise increased funding and expand mental health support and counselling in Wales over the next five years.

The five year plan, published by Wales's First Minister Mark Drakeford MS, sets out the Welsh Government’s core policy priorities for this parliamentary term.

It highlights mental health as a headline commitment and includes a promise to prioritise both mental health funding and mental health service redesign to improve prevention, tackle stigma and to promote a no-wrong door approach.

This closely reflects the central call in our manifesto for the recent Senedd Elections to help the nation address the increased need which has been brought about by the pandemic.

There's also an important commitment to undertake a “reform of primary care” which will incorporate mental health services into GP surgeries, alongside pharmacy, therapy, housing, social care and community and third sector support.

This provides an important opportunity to expand provision of counselling into the heart of communities across Wales and help to rapidly improve access for all.

We're keen to work with Welsh Government to help implement this important commitment.

In addition, the plan commits to prioritising the “roll out of child and adolescent mental health services in schools across Wales”.

This will include additional funding to expand counselling provision in schools.

This investment will focus on addressing waiting lists, forging links with providers of complimentary services, providing training to counsellors on new and innovative ways of working and to further support school staff wellbeing.

There'll also be additional resource for third sector partners to deliver interventions in schools and for teacher and school staff training on emotional and mental wellbeing.

Steve Mulligan, our Four Nations Lead, said: “We're pleased to see mental health so prominent within the Welsh Government’s plans for the next five years, with clear plans to reform both mental health services and primary care.

"This is an important opportunity for us to work with Welsh Government to address the longstanding issue of poor access to counselling and psychological therapies, particularly across local and more remote communities, where waiting lists in some areas exceeded two years before the pandemic.  

"We're also pleased to see the commitment to expand counselling support for children and young people across schools, with increased funding, as well as the promise of additional training and support for counsellors.

"This will help further build on the success of the existing school counselling programme in Wales and expand support to meet the growing need amongst children and young during this most challenging period". 

Read the Programme for Government for Wales.