MORE than 4,000 children in north Cumbria were in contact with mental health services in the year to September, new figures show.

The figures reflect a national trend in which more children than ever have accessed mental health services across England, with the number of open referrals having almost doubled throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

NHS Digital figures show around 4,160 children in the former NHS North Cumbria CCG area were in contact with mental health services in the year to September.

At the end of September, about 465,000 children throughout England were awaiting a mental health appointment after a referral, an increase from 250,000 two years earlier.

Locally, the same trend can be seen, with open referrals in north Cumbria doubling from about 1,250 in September 2019 to over 2,200 this year.

Around six children in every classroom need mental health support, but many struggle to get the help that they need, the Mental Health Coalition said. 

Additional data released by NHS Digital indicates that children in England aged between 11 and 16 who are likely to have a mental disorder are five times more susceptible to in-person bullying and four times more likely to be cyberbullied than their counterparts, as of 2023. 

NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch said: "NHS staff are working harder than ever to meet the increased demand and we have fast-tracked mental health support for millions of pupils in schools and colleges, as well as significantly expanding the children’s mental health workforce."

In response to escalating mental health challenges, the Department for Health and Social Care said it will invest an additional £2.3 billion a year in mental health services, meaning an additional 345,000 children and young people can access support.

The Department's spokesperson added that mental health teams were being introduced to schools and colleges, while the recruitment of mental health workforce was a priority.

In March, NHS mental health services had employed 143,000 full-time staff, marking an increase from 136,000 the previous September.

If you are struggling with your mental wellbeing, you should seek help as soon as you can.

Find out what mental health support is available to you at