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Mind over matter: A report on the step change needed in emotional and mental health support for children and young people in Wales

1. Across the UK, it is estimated that one in four children will show some evidence of mental ill health, and three children in an average size classroom will have a mental health problem.1 Half of all mental health problems begin by the age of 14, and three-quarters by an individual’s mid-20s.

2. Wales is no exception. Time to Change Wales – an alliance of leading Welsh mental health charities – reports that one in ten young people will experience a mental health problem, and nearly three in four young people fear the reaction of friends when they talk about it. Mental health is the issue most commonly raised with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales by children, young people, their parents and carers, and was highlighted as a key priority when this Committee consulted on our work programme shortly after the Assembly elections in May 2016.

3. Without support, mental distress can have a severe impact on children’s happiness, well-being and development, their educational attainment and their potential to live fulfilling and productive lives. Children and young people with mental health problems also face stigma, isolation and discrimination, as well as challenges in accessing health care and education. But these are not inevitable consequences of mental distress. Evidence shows that with appropriate and timely intervention and support, children and young people can live well and happy lives.