'Concern' as mental health wait times double in six years

image caption, Sara Moseley said services offered across Wales were patchy

The number of people waiting for mental health treatment has doubled in the past six years, figures have shown.

There were 1,820 patients waiting to be seen in May, compared to 916 in 2011.

About half had waits of up to four weeks, the other half up to 26 weeks and a small number waited longer.

Charity Mind Cymru said it was "very concerned" by the figures but the Welsh Government said more money was being ploughed into services and more people were being referred.

Sara Moseley, director of Mind Cymru, said: "Our own research shows that far too many people are waiting for significant periods, sometimes as long as 12 months, to get the treatment they need to stay well.

"We also know that the services offered across Wales are patchy, with some health board areas providing a much better service than others."

She added the vast majority of Welsh speakers were not offered the choice of therapy in their first language.

Although the figures have risen steadily over the six years, this year's were slightly down on 2016 but still double of that in 2011.

image caption, Andrew Tamplin said he spent large amounts of money receiving private treatment

Andrew Tamplin suffered a breakdown and paid to be seen privately.

"I couldn't wait six months to see someone," he said. "I don't like to think what would've happened. I paid thousands for 20 to 30 sessions.

"When you're suffering mental illness the last thing you need is more stress and anxiety [from waiting]."

Gwen Goddard also paid privately for treatment but now works for Training in Mind, which teaches first aiders about mental health.

She told Newyddion 9: "It was a crisis, I was so ill. When you talk about self harming and suicidal feelings it is a crisis.

"People have to have prompt treatment."

image caption, Gwen Goddard wants to see patients receiving quicker treatment

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "We want to ensure that people experiencing mental health problems have access to appropriate and timely services as close to their home as practical.

"We continue to spend more on mental health services than on any other part of our NHS and have put in place more stringent waiting time targets to help us achieve that ambition.

"We recognise there is more to be done to improve waiting time performance, but this needs to be set in context of increasing numbers of people being referred for treatment."

Ms Moseley added: "We continue to call for NHS Wales to offer a full range of evidence-based psychological therapies to everyone who needs them within 28 days of requesting a referral and we welcome Welsh Government's commitment to improving waiting times."

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