THOUSANDS of children have been in contact with mental health services in Barnsley over the past year, shocking new figures have revealed.

Statistics from NHS Digital show a total of 2,340 children and young people had at least one contact with mental health services in the Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area in the 12 months to May.

It’s the highest number since local records began in July 2021 and up from 2,295 in April this year.

Local rates of mental ill health in young people have been on the rise in recent years, with one in six young people aged six to 16 now estimated to have a probable mental health disorder, compared to one in nine in 2017.

Child health and wellbeing statistics make clear the task facing the borough’s support services with 255 instances of hospitalisation among children and young people due to self-harm in Barnsley in the year 2020/21, a rate of 659.3 per 100,000 people.

That’s significantly higher than the Yorkshire and Humber average of 358.4, and the national average of 421.9.

The category covers children as young as ten, to 24-year-old adults, and while lower than the previous year’s record-high rate of 807.4, numbers have been on the rise since 2011 when records began.

Barnsley’s recent rate is also more than 200 higher than the next-highest area Doncaster, and more than double Sheffield.

MP for Barnsley East, Stephanie Peacock, called on the government to act quickly on the mental health of young people.

She said: “Our mental health services are in crisis.

“Young people want action, not more empty promises.

“I recently asked a Prime Minister’s question on the worrying levels of young people being admitted to Barnsley Hospital due to self-harm.

“This is a mental health crisis and we need action now.

“Following this, over the last few months, I met with the government minister responsible, local stakeholders, South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Integrated Care System, and the local authority to discuss how to alleviate this crisis.

“It’s time to end the wait.”

Figures also show the number of children and young people across Barnsley who were still in touch with mental services at the end of May was more than 1,700 - up from 1,530 at the same time last year.

Meanwhile, almost 2,000 children were waiting to be seen at the end of May after being referred by a GP or other health professional.

To combat this, a new mental health service has been launched in Barnsley to support youngsters.

In a joint collaboration between child and adolescent mental health services (CAHMS) and other local mental health support teams - dubbed Branching Minds Barnsley - it’s hoped the scheme will provide more seamless care for those who need it.