Health Minister Questions 6th July 2011 – Mental health

Mark Drakeford: A wnaiff y Gweinidog ddatganiad am wasanaethau iechyd meddwl yng Nghymru.   
[Will the Minister make a statement on mental health services in Wales.] 

Lesley Griffiths: Mental health services in Wales remain a key priority. Within the last year, the Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2009 has been introduced, a mental health programme board has been established to provide direction and leadership to drive forward improvements to services, and a national action plan to improve children’s mental health services has been launched.   

Mark Drakeford: We know that economic recession is closely associated with an increase in the demand for mental health services. Will your department monitor any increase in the use of prescribed drugs in response to that increased demand? While pharmaceutical solutions to the economic recession may alleviate individual symptoms, they do little to address the underlying social and economic distress that caused the problem in the first place.   

Lesley Griffiths: You raise a vital point, and I recognise and share your concern on this issue. Prescribing patterns for key groups of medication are already monitored, and, earlier this year, we completed work to examine the prescribing patterns for hypnotics and the newer generation of Z drugs, to give but two examples. Local health boards have been asked to keep this matter under review, and will be expected to report progress in reducing inappropriate prescribing and in developing services to support individuals who are dependent on such drugs. We are also developing mechanisms to facilitate access to psychological therapies, in line with our manifesto commitment to review access to talking therapies in Wales.