Mental health inequalities



The Health and Social Care Committee held an inquiry into mental health inequalities.


The Centre for Mental Health describes a ‘triple barrier’ of mental health inequality, which affects large numbers of people from different sections of the population:



>>>Some groups of people are disproportionately at risk of poor mental health. This is often linked to wider inequalities in society.

>>>Groups with particularly high levels of poor mental health can have the most difficulty accessing services.

>>>When people do get support, their experiences and outcomes are often poorer.



These inequalities existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic has made them worse


Inquiry report


On 19 December 2022, the Health and Social Care Committee published its report, Connecting the dots: tackling mental health inequalities in Wales. The Committee also published a summary of the report and an accompanying media release.


As part of the inquiry, the Committee established an online advisory group with people who have experienced mental health inequalities. On 19 December 2022, the Committee published a summary of the issues raised by the advisory group.


Alternative formats


The report and summary are also available in web and Microsoft Word formats. Links to these versions are set out below. Information about how to use the accessibility options in the Microsoft Word version is available in an explainer document.


Committee report:


>>>Web version

>>>Microsoft Word version





>>>Web version

>>>Microsoft Word version



Summary of online advisory group’s views:


>>>Microsoft Word version



Information about the inquiry


The first stage of the inquiry focused on:



>>>Which groups of people are disproportionately affected by poor mental health in Wales? What factors contribute to worse mental health within these groups?

>>>For the groups identified, what are the barriers to accessing mental health services? How effectively can existing services meet their needs, and how could their experience of using mental health services be improved?

>>>To what extent does Welsh Government policy recognise and address the mental health needs of these groups? Where are the policy gaps?

>>>What further action is needed, by whom/where, to improve mental health and outcomes for the groups of people identified and reduce mental health inequalities in Wales?



The Committee then explored four key emerging themes in greater detail:



>>>Mental health and society: the wider determinants of mental health, and the role of society and communities in promoting and supporting mental health.

>>>Community solutions: the role of communities in promoting and supporting mental health, and social prescribing.

>>>The impact of mental health inequalities on people with neurodiverse conditions: We have heard significant concerns about this group in the evidence that we have gathered so far. This is also a diverse group, many of whom may also experience inequalities relating to their other characteristics. The evidence suggests that some of the barriers experienced by this group—such as a lack of joined up services, limited awareness and training, and diagnostic overshadowing—may also be experienced by other groups and communities. Looking at the experience of people with neurodiverse conditions will therefore also help us to explore broader themes that affect other groups.

>>>Role of the healthcare and wider workforce: including mental health and equality awareness across the whole workforce, training, joined up working within the health service and with other organisations, and the role of GPs as the ‘front door’ to mental health services



The Committee gathered evidence on these themes through a range of mechanisms, including formal oral evidence, visits and further engagement activity. This helped us to hear a wide range of voices, including people with professional and lived expertise and experience.


To explore these issues, the Committee



>>>Issued a written call for evidence between 10 January and 24 February 2022.  We received over 90 responses.

>>>Held a series of focus groups during February and March 2022 with people who have lived experience of mental health inequalities.

>>>Held oral evidence sessions with key stakeholders on 24 March, 4 May, 19 May, 8 June and 6 July.

>>> Undertook an external visit to EYST and Barnardo’s Cymru on Thursday 23 June.

>>>Held an informal stakeholder discussion with people with lived experience of neurodiversity on 8 June 2022.

>>>Held a series of focus groups during August 2022 with relevant workforce groups.

>>>Established an online advisory group with people who have mental experienced mental health inequalities.

>>>Held an oral evidence session with the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing and the Deputy Minister for Social Services on 28 September.




You can also read more about our work so far on the Senedd blog.

Help and support


If you need help and support, the C.A.L.L mental health helpline for Wales provides mental health and emotional support, and signposting to local services:


Freephone 24 hours a day on 0800 132 737, or text HELP to 81066.



If you’re struggling to cope, need to talk to someone or feeling suicidal, you can contact Samaritans:


Freephone 24 hours a day from any phone on 116 123.

Welsh Language Line: 0808 164 0123 (7pm-11pm, 7 days a week)


Website: Samaritans Cymru


You can also find information about other mental health resources and sources of support in the Senedd Research mental health support factsheet.

Business type: Committee Inquiry

Reason considered: Senedd Business;

First published: 10/01/2022