Ambulance service witnesses increase in teenage suicides and domestic abuse incidents in Wales during coronavirus lockdown
Ambulance crews in Wales have witnessed an increase in teenage suicides and domestic abuse incidents during the coronavirus lockdown, it’s been revealed.
The Welsh Ambulance Service said there had been a rise in mental health problems among adolescents since the pandemic started in March.
A report to senior officials shows that there have been six call outs to cases where youngsters have taken their own lives during this period.
Meanwhile, frontline emergency workers have highlighted a spike in domestic abuse incidents, with Women’s Aid also detailing a 25 per cent increase in calls to their phone helplines.
The health trust’s chief executive Jason Killens said the social implications of COVID-19 had been a cause of concern to the service.
Speaking at a virtual board meeting on Thursday, he said: “Vulnerability and the impact of the pandemic is a live issue for us now, not only as we begin to emerge from lockdown and the control measures are eased further.
“Particularly here we’re thinking about safeguarding issues relating to children and domestic abuse.
“We’re actively engaged with emergency services and other colleagues across Wales in raising awareness among our people of the likelihood of increased reporting of safeguarding concerns and how we should respond and signpost people to the support that’s available.
“There’s also a long term issue that will inevitably emerge as a result of the last three months of lockdown that we will continue to work with partners on.”
At the outset of the pandemic, the service introduced mental health professionals into its 999 call centres to provide extra support to people with related conditions.
The additional staff have now returned to their own organisations, meaning the specialised mental health desks have stopped running.
However, Mr Killens said a review would quickly be carried out to look at how assistance can be provided in the future.
He said: “We had our own clinicians and others from across the system deployed to provide professional advice to 999 callers in mental health crisis.
“That is coming to a close as we come out of the pandemic and we will review that internally for best practice and then to inform an ongoing review on access to mental health.”
If you need someone to talk to about mental health issues, you can call the Samaritans for free support at any time of the day on 116 123.
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter
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