MORE than 1,100 children have been referred by schools to East Lancashire Health Trusts for specialist mental health treatment in the last four years.

Nationally the number has risen by a third to 34,757 in 2017/18, the equivalent of 183 every school day.

In the North of England more than 35,000 referrals were made to specialist NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) between 2014/2017 and 2017/2018.

The figures were obtained by children's charity the NSPCC through a Freedom of Information request to NHS Trusts in England.

Blackburn with Darwen Council children's services and education boss Cllr Maureen Bateson said: "I have been concerned about increasing number of children suffering from mental health issues for some time.

"More young people are talking about it which is good but services and funding has yet to catch up."

Across England over the four years there were 123,713 referrals to CAMHS, 56 per cent from primary schools, with almost a third declined specialist treatment

The number of children and young people referred to the East Lancashire Hospital NHS Trust were 143 in 2014/15, 164 in 2015/16, 163 in 2016/2017, and 105 in 2017/18: a total of 575 over the four years.

The figure for the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust , the main mental health organisation in the county, were 105 in 2014/15, 135 in 2015/16, 154 in 2016/17, and 197 in 2017/18: a total of 591 over the four years.

The total referred by schools to the two trusts for the period was 1,166. The annual number between them rose from 248 pupils in 2014/2015 to 302 to 2017/2018.

The NSPCC's 'Are You There?' campaign is calling on the government to invest more money into early support services and the charity Childline.

Its chief executive Peter Wanless said: "Early counselling from Childline could also help relieve the pressure on CAMHS.

“We have seen a marked increase in counselling about mental health, and fully expect it to continue. It is vital that Government urgently provides more funding to Childline and help children who don’t have access to support elsewhere.”

Dame Esther Rantzen, founder of Childline said: “Young people are telling us they are overwhelmed with mental health issues, such depression and anxiety, which is taking many of them to the brink of suicide. It concerns us that we cannot help every child who desperately needs us."