Mental Health Services Must Be A Priority

Improving mental health services for young people must be the priority for the new children’s commissioner for Wales, according to a leading children’s charity.

Last week adverts for the post were placed in the media and the Welsh government wants to appoint a permanent replacement for Peter Clarke, who died in January, by the end of the year.

Maria Battle is currently acting commissioner. Simon Jones, NSPCC’s policy advisor for Wales, called for Clarke’s focus on mental health issues to be taken forward. “The previous children’s commissioner was very vocal about children and young people’s mental health issues,” he said.

“We hope there’s a continuing emphasis on this, to ensure children across Wales can access mental health services, particularly post-abuse therapeutic services for children who have suffered violence or abuse. It’s very patchy: some areas of Wales have these services but others don’t.”

Jones also argued it was vital the appointee is able to actively engage youngsters. “The most important thing is that the new commissioner knows how to innovatively involve children in their work and to listen to what they say,” he said.

Dr Heledd Hayes, education officer for the National Union of Teachers Cymru, emphasised the importance of the new commissioner having experience of working directly with young people and being “someone who takes a balanced view of issues”.