“Women across Wales are being let down”

“Women across Wales are being let down”

An event at the Senedd on World Mental Health Day – October 10th 2018 – will see a new report on Welsh women’s mental health presented to Assembly Members. The event marks the culmination of Welsh mental health charity Hafal’s #DeedsNotWords campaign which has seen women in every county of Wales organising local events.

Many thousands of women engaged in the campaign via the events, Hafal’s 100+ services, and social media. Over 250 women also took part in a survey to determine what the priorities should be for improving the mental health of women in Wales.

The feedback from the campaign paints a concerning picture of women’s mental health. 27% of survey respondents said they thought mental health service delivery was poor; 41% said services are below average, and 26% said they are only average.

When asked what issues there are with current services, responses included the following:

  • services are under-resourced
  • there is inadequate support for girls and young women
  • Wales lacks sufficient peri-natal and eating disorders services
  • anti-depressants are over-prescribed to women
  • access to psychological therapies is limited
  • waiting times for services are too long
  • there is a lack of support for carers’ mental health
  • care and treatment plans are poor quality
  • hospital are low quality environments where female patients don’t feel safe
  • there are too many women with a mental illness in prison.

Hafal’s Chief Operating Officer Nicola Thomas who is on the panel leading the campaign said: “The feedback from the campaign shows that women across Wales are being let down when it comes to their mental health.

“Mental health and well‐being are the new front line for women, underpinning their chance to achieve equality, independence, and a fulfilling life. We’ve discovered during the campaign that many women in Wales do not get this chance because they do not receive the support they need.

“Despite great individual understanding and aspirational policy documents from the Welsh Government our concern is that the improvement in mental health services so far is about words not deeds.

“We do not believe that the reasonable expectation of personal independence, financial security, equal relationships, and living safely and at ease in the community is the experience of most women in Wales.”

Hafal Chair Elin Jones who is also on the panel leading the campaign said: “The #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns have shown that in many situations women’s voices have still not been heard, and there are many women today in prisons and in mental hospitals who have despaired of ever being heard at all. Women with mental illness all too often find themselves being punished for being ill.”

The campaign report, which will be presented to AMs at the Senedd event, is proposing ten actions to address the issues facing the most vulnerable and at risk, and women in general.

Sponsored by Jeremy Miles AM, the event will bring mental health service users, carers, professionals and politicians together to learn more about our campaign for women’s mental health.  The event will also feature a number of speakers who will talk about their own experiences of mental illness and celebrate the centenary of women’s suffrage.