Ahead of his speech in the Senedd tomorrow (Wednesday) James Evans MS, Shadow Minister for Mental Health, and Wellbeing is calling for Wales to look towards adopting a more open culture on mental health by improving community cohesion and encouraging those who are suffering with loneliness to speak out.

Commenting ahead of the debate on Wednesday, Mr Evans said: “On Wednesday, the Welsh Conservatives will present their vision to how mental health policy should be handled here in Wales. A radical approach, we will make a strong case for Wales to have its own bespoke Mental Health Act to address the bespoke issues this nation faces. However, we cannot always legislate our way out of these things which is why I will also be calling for Wales to adopt a culture of openness on mental health and encourage those suffering with things such as loneliness to speak out. Over the summer, I saw firsthand how £10,000 from the national lottery helped the ‘Men’s Shed’ at Ystradgynlais Volunteer Centre. Weatherproofing their workshop and guaranteeing activities for the future, individuals who had faced periods of isolation could now come together more frequently.”

Mr Evans continued: Reflecting of where we are as a nation, I grow particularly concerned about the rise in loneliness, a topic I will dedicate my speech towards when I open the debate on Wednesday. Loneliness is a subtle but dangerous threat in the realm of mental health, as the National Survey highlighted, 13% of people in Wales were found to be lonely – this figure has remained steady over the previous two years and as we approach the winter months, we must also remember that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as ‘Winter Depression’, affects 1 in 3 people in the UK – yet many do not seek the support they need.

“Over 2.2% of the Welsh population are stuck on a waiting list of more than 18 months. This general picture of the dire state of the Welsh NHS is a major contributing factor in the poor standard of our mental health services, with some patients in Wales waiting up to twelve years for a bipolar diagnosis. In the 2021 manifesto, Welsh Conservatives made numerous pledges regarding mental health, including: fully funding the Welsh NHS with the £1.20 that Wales receives for every £1 spent in England, rather than the mere £1.05 that the Welsh Government are willing to commit to it – after cutting the NHS budget. Coupled with the various other Welsh Conservative pledges to bring about improvements in the wider Welsh NHS, this would see a transformation in the provision of mental health services in the Welsh NHS.”

Mr Evans will be delivering his opening speech on the ‘Welsh Conservative Debate – Mental Health’ on Wednesday, October 11. His speech will be made readily available on his website and social media platforms soon before proceedings.