MENTAL health has become a national crisis, an Assembly Member has said.

Jack Sargeant, AM for Alyn and Deeside, marked Children’s Mental Health Week by speaking out about his own experiences and pledged to support positive action to help young people build happy and healthy minds.

Rhianon Passmore AM sponsored an event in Cardiff to hear from professionals and those who have benefited from Action for Children’s Blues Programme and she asked Mr Sargeant to speak at the event as she recognised his work surrounding the issue.

The Deeside AM said: “This campaign recognises that people rarely share how they feel – including children and young people. Mental illness is not a tangible thing people can see. Just because no one can see it, does not mean it is any less real.

“That’s why since entering the Assembly, I’ve been speaking about my own troubles with mental health in a bid to try and get more people talking.

“We all have ways of numbing our pain, whether it be through alcohol, pills, self-harm or something else: it never stops the pain from happening. It only delays the pain and hits you that much harder when you finally let it.

“Let’s not underestimate the power of talking because thoughts can leave deeper scars than anything else. It alarms me that statistics are showing that children are increasingly having these thoughts on a daily basis.”

School children from Whitchurch High spoke on stage about their experiences and feeling uncomfortable in speaking out and Mr Sargeant told the Leader he was deeply moved by what was said.

At the event he said: “I think people are more ready to talk about their mental health today than in the past, but there’s no doubting that that the issue of mental health illness is now a national crisis.

“Alarmingly, 70 per cent of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.

“This is where the work of Action for Children is so important, because we know that there are things that can help keep children and young people mentally well. We need to do more to deal with academic pressures and bullying which are a common cause of mental health issues for children and young people.”

The week also marked sexual abuse and violence awareness week and the AM said it is a horrific issue impacting young people.