New £5.5m funding for mental health help in Wales

Patients in Wales with mental health problems may be able to access more help from their GPs with new funding.

The Welsh government says its £5.5m investment will mean more patients have care plans tailored to their needs.

It is also expanding its advocacy service to help them understand their legal rights.

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said the money would pay for some of the proposals in the Mental Health Wales Measure, which became law in 2010.

About £3.5m will go towards support at a local level.

The rest will fund an expanded independent mental health advocacy service.

It is hoped this would help patients make informed decisions about their care and treatment.

The Mental Health Wales Measure is designed to ensure services are better designed around patients' needs.

Mrs Griffiths said: "With one in four people suffering from mental health issues at some point in their lifetime, this funding will mean better support for people closer to their homes.

"This additional money will mean mental health services will be available within primary care settings and be delivered alongside general health services provided by GPs.

"It also means that mental health services will be more personalised, focusing on the recovery model of care and treatment, appropriately tailored for specific groups.

'More tailored approach'

"It will also mean that individuals will get timely access to assessment when they have been discharged from secondary mental health services but feel they would again benefit from further treatment."

Professor Ceri Phillips, a health economist at Swansea University, said: "It's not a lot of money, but given that we haven't got any money to invest then I suppose it registers on the significant scale.

"It's probably 1% more than is currently spent on mental health services in Wales."

He added: "What is significant is that it is probably targeted at one of the recommendations that the Welsh Audit Office made in a report six months ago where they were advocating that more capacity was needed in primary care to be able to support people with mental health."

Rachel Bowen, of mental health charity Mind Cymru, said people should get a "more tailored approach, more quickly".

She added: "One of the things that people should notice is that when they go to their GP they should get a more detailed assessment of their mental health needs if they present with a mental health problem."

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