Crisis care services may soon become wholly ineffective in Wales, with increasing demand challenging service providers's ability to providing lasting therapeutic support. 

That's the new warning laid out by the Welsh Assembly, a body established in 2016 to scrutinise the policy and expenditure of the Welsh government.

With rates of child self-harm up by 41 percent in three years, the government must focus on 'the front end' of the care pathway, they say.

"Failure to deliver emotional well-being, resilience and early intervention will lead to demand for specialist services outstripping supply [and] threatening their sustainability and effectiveness," says Chair Lynn Neagle.

Ms Neagle's message comes in her foreword to the Welsh Assembly's new 144 page report, 'The Emotional and Mental Health of Children and Young People in Wales'.

"The front end of the care pathway should be a stated national priority for the Welsh Government," she continues.

Evidence cited by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in the report confirms that despite the creation of new crisis teams, there has been an increase in self-harm admissions to A & E wards in Wales.

Default responses

A & E is "becoming the default option in cases of self-harm", the report claims.

Young people "don’t have a crisis care plan because they haven’t had the right support or interactions with secondary services in the first place," say Samaritans Cymru in their evidence to the Assembly.

"They have had anxiety or depression that’s gone untreated, and back to maybe impulsivity, they end up self-harming or trying to take their own life, and there’s no other place for them.”

It is estimated that three children in every average size classroom will have a mental health issue. By the age of 14, half of all mental health problems will have begun.