WORRYING figures of Barnsley children contacting mental health support services have been highlighted by an MP - after it was revealed more than 3,000 sought help in a year.

Stephanie Peacock, who represents Barnsley East, spoke out on Children’s Mental Health Week, which ends on Sunday.

The annual event aims to give a voice to all children and young people, and to encourage them to speak up about their mental health if and when they need to.

This year’s theme is ‘My Voice Matters’, and the organisation - Young Minds - are using this to equip children with the vocabulary they need to express their feelings coherently.

According to NHS figures, 3,300 youngsters accessed support in the year to September.

Ms Peacock said: “I was pleased to lend my support to Children’s Mental Health Week 2024.

“It is so important that children know how to express anything that they are struggling with to someone they trust.

“If you or your child are struggling with your mental health, there are lots of excellent services who can help.”

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Young Minds accused the government of failing to take action - and labelled the crisis as a ‘deepening’ one.

Nationally, 710,000 children accessed mental health support - the highest observed figure since comparable records began in March 2021.

Children aged between 11 and 16 with a probable mental disorder were five times more likely to have been bullied in person - and four times more likely to be bullied online - than those unlikely to have a mental disorder in 2023.

Laura Bunt, chief executive at Young Minds, added: “Instead of action, young people get broken promises in the form of scrapped plans and missed opportunities.

“We need the government to turn the tide on this emergency - it must commit to reducing prevalence and tackle the reasons why so many young people are struggling with their mental health.

“We need an ambitious plan that matches the scale of need focusing on prevention, investment and improving services.”

Barnsley’s Mental Health Support Team (MHST) work with all 11 secondary schools and all 77 primary schools in Barnsley to provide group and one-to-one support for all children and young people living in the town.

In the last year, the service has seen the number of referrals among school children sky rocket.

A report said: “Barnsley MHST has seen a 54 per cent increase in referrals between 2022 and 2023, increasing from 261 referrals between April 2021 to March 2022 to 402 referrals between April 2022 to March 2023.

“The service now consistently receives more than 100 referrals each calendar month.

“Demand for the service has been consistently high in terms of numbers of children and young people supported, with positive evaluations received of the service.

“However, this, coupled with difficulties recruiting to vacant posts, which is an issue across the region, has had an impact on waiting times with the average waiting time for treatment of three to six months depending on what support is needed.”