This article is intended to help Members of the Senedd and their staff respond to constituents’ mental health concerns, and signpost people to relevant sources of support.
Resources for MSs/support staff
- The Royal College of Psychiatrists and mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness have developed guidance for MPs and their staff on dealing with concerns about constituents’ mental health. This information is also relevant for MSs and support staff.
- The above guidance document includes advice on responding to a person who may be experiencing a crisis, or where you’re concerned they might be at immediate risk of harm. Samaritans also has information on what to do if you’re worried about someone, including if you think it’s an emergency.
- The Zero Suicide Alliance provides free online suicide prevention training. This aims to increase awareness of signs to look out for, and equip people with the confidence and skills to respond to someone in distress. Different training options range from 5 to 30 minutes in duration.
- General information about types of mental health problems can be found on Mind’s website, along with a comprehensive A-Z of mental health and information on a patient’s legal rights.
- The Mental Health Foundation has a helpful article on why the language we use to describe mental health matters.
- See also Senedd Research’s ‘Mental health’ reading list for the Sixth Senedd.
Information and resources for constituents
General practitioners (GPs) are usually the first port of call when people are seeking help for a mental health problem. GPs can offer an initial assessment and, in some cases, provide the necessary support. This might include advice on self-care and lifestyle changes to improve mental wellbeing, or prescribing medication alongside a referral for counselling support.
Where more specialist help is needed, a GP can refer the patient to an appropriate mental health service for a more detailed assessment/treatment. This could be, for example, a local primary mental health support service, a community mental health team, or crisis team depending on the patient’s level of need.
Patients should receive a primary mental health assessment within 28 days (urgent referrals should be seen within 48 hours and emergency referrals within four hours).
Some mental health support services can be accessed directly, without needing a referral from a GP or other professional. For example:
- SilverCloud is an online programme based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). It’s intended for people aged 16 and over, with mild to moderate levels of depression, anxiety, or stress.
- ACTivate Your Life is an online self-help course, sharing practical ways to deal with distressing thoughts and feelings.
- Active Monitoring Wales is a guided, self-help service for adults provided by Mind. It can help with issues including anxiety and depression.
Different services may be available in different parts of Wales. Each health board provides information about accessing mental health support in its area; the following websites can be a useful starting point for signposting constituents to local services as well as self-help resources:
- Aneurin Bevan – Melo
- Betsi Cadwaladr – Mental health hub
- Cardiff and Vale - Stepiau
- Cwm Taf Morgannwg – Community support hub
- Hywel Dda - IAWN (Information, awareness and wellbeing now)
- Powys – Mental health services during COVID-19. See also Powys mental health information service
- Swansea Bay – Get help with mental health
Helplines and other support
C.A.L.L. mental health helpline for Wales provides mental health and emotional support, and signposting to local services. Freephone 0800 132 737, or text help to 81066.
Mind operates two helplines - Infoline is an information and signposting service; Mind’s Legal line provides information and general advice on mental health-related law. Local Minds provide mental health services in local communities across England and Wales (search by postcode or map). Infoline: 0300 123 3393, Legal line: 0300 466 6463.
BAME Mental Health Support (BMHS) provides a range of services, particularly aimed at supporting ethnic minority communities. A helpline is available each day from midday – 11pm: 0800 144 8824.
Hafal provides a range of services across Wales. The charity has a special focus on supporting people with a serious mental illness and their carers. Tel: 01792 816 600/832 400.
Samaritans is particularly experienced in supporting people with suicidal thoughts/behaviour. A 24/7 helpline and an email service is available. A Welsh language helpline is also available. Call 116 123. For Welsh language line, call 0808 164 0123.
Shout 85258 is a free, confidential, 24/7 text messaging support service for people who are struggling to cope. Text 'SHOUT' to 85258.
The website stayingsafe.net, developed by 4 Mental Health, helps people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts to create a ‘safety plan’.
wellbeingandcoping.net provides practical ideas to help people feel calmer and find ways of coping. It includes a downloadable version which can be printed and given to people who don’t have online access.
Hub of hope is a national mental health database bringing together sources of mental health advice and support. You can find relevant local services by entering a postcode.
Young person’s mental health toolkit links young people (aged 11 to 25) to websites, apps, helplines, and other resources to support mental health and wellbeing.
Meic is a helpline service for children and young people up to the age of 25. Online chat, freephone and text services are provided. Freephone 080880 23456, or text 84001.
Papyrus is a suicide prevention charity providing support to young people up to the age of 35 via a national helpline HOPELINEUK (this includes text and email services). Call 0800 068 41 41, or text 07860 039967.
YoungMinds’ crisis messenger service is a free 24/7 text support service for young people experiencing a mental health crisis. Text YM to 85258.
YoungMinds also offer a parents helpline, email service and webchat for parents/carers who are concerned about their child’s mental health (up to the age of 25). Call 0808 802 5544.
Charlie Waller Trust’s Coping with self-harm: A guide for parents and carers provides information about self-harm and how to support a young person.
Papyrus also has a guide for parents and carers concerned that a young person might be experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm - Supporting your child: Self-harm and suicide.
Beat eating disorders charity provides support services to adults and young people including helplines, email support and web chat. Helpline: 0808 801 0677, Studentline: 0808 801 0811, Youthline: 0808 801 0711.
Veterans NHS Wales is a specialised, priority NHS service for veterans in need of mental health support in Wales. Veterans can self-refer to the service.
Combat Stress veteran’s mental health charity provides a 24 hour helpline, online support and a range of mental health services for former servicemen and women. Helpline: 0800 138 1619.
Other sources of information and advice
Citizens Advice provides support for many of the problems that can contribute to mental ill health, including for example issues around housing, employment, and debt. Online support is available, and you can also find your local Citizens Advice service via a postcode search on the website (note: local services may not be providing face to face advice during the pandemic). National phone line: 0800 702 2020.
Article by Philippa Watkins, Senedd Research, Welsh Parliament