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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 March 2006, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
Charity urges help on self-harm
Knife (generic)
The report found 1 in 15 young people had self-harmed

Child mental health care in Wales is "grossly under-funded", a children's charity has warned.

Barnardo's Cymru called for millions to be spent on mental health services to bring them up to the same standard as in England.

The plea follows a UK inquiry into self harm, which found one in 15 children and young adults had self-harmed.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it was "actively seeking" to improve youth mental health services.

The charity wants to see money spent on counselling services, helplines and better training for teachers.

The self-harm report, called Truth Hurts, is the result of a two-year study conducted by the Camelot Foundation and the Mental Health Foundation.

Barnardo's Cymru said the inquiry had highlighted the need for better mental health promotion strategies in schools.

'Gross under-funding'

The charity's Sally Jenkins said self-harm was indicative of "great emotional stress" and that it was "horrifying" up to one in 15 of 11 to 25 year olds have self harmed.

She said: "In May 2005, Barnardo's Cymru ran an awareness raising campaign to highlight the issue of self-harm among young people in Wales and to call for greater understanding and awareness among parents and professionals.

"We hope the publication of the national inquiry report will put this issue in the spotlight again and that we can move forward in addressing the gross under-funding in Wales for child mental health."

Ms Jenkins said since 2000, England had spent 440m on services for children and young people with mental health issues.

Feelings of isolation

"If we were to match that level of funding in Wales, we would need to have spent 26.4m. The reality is that we have spent 1.7m," she said.

Ms Jenkins said it was important to provide services to support young people's emotional health before it reached "crisis point".

"The self-harm inquiry report calls for whole-school awareness of mental and emotional health issues and says schools need to be supported in this area. We would fully back that," she added.

Barnardo's Cymru said a helpline for pupils in two Carmarthen secondary schools run by the charity had received calls from people about bullying, family problems, and feelings of isolation in its first few months of operation.

The charity said there was a framework for promoting positive mental health among young people in England, and they would like to see a Welsh equivalent.

Youth partnerships

They also want the assembly and education authorities to support schools in promoting positive mental health.

A spokesperson for the Welsh Assembly Government said: "1.2m recurring funding has been made available to local health boards on a regional basis to develop CAMS commissioning networks. We have also set waiting times targets for CAMS services.

The spokesperson said they have set a range of key actions to be taken across Wales in the National Service Framework for Children. All local children and youth partnerships will be required to report progress against these targets by the end of March 2007.

Health Commission Wales was also setting up an eating disorder service for south Wales and the assembly government's anti-bullying strategy was another example of action under the CAMS strategy, added the spokesperson.

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