Schools in Hertfordshire and Essex have referred nearly 3,000 troubled pupils for mental health treatment since since 2014.

A Freedom of Information Act by children's charity NSPCC has found that referrals have risen by a third in the last three years across the Eastern region.

The NSPCC asked NHS trusts across England how many students were sought professional help from NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) by schools.

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust has received 1,069 referrals while the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust received 369 since 2014.

The Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust received 1,295 referrals between 2014-2016. No figures were given for the time period between 2016-2018.

Across the country, 56 per cent of referrals came from primary schools.

Not all pupils who were put forward by their school were eligible for treatment.

Of the 1,295 in Essex, only 454 were referred while across the two trusts in Hertfordshire, 587 children were deemed ineligible.

Nearly a third of referrals from schools to CAMHS, for trusts across England who were able to provide the information, over the last three years were declined treatment as they did not meet the criteria for support.

The NSPCC is warning that increased demand for support across specialist CAMHS, schools and the voluntary sector is placing the system under real pressure, jeopardising the well-being of thousands of children.

The NSPCC’s Childline service has seen a 26 per cent increase in the number of counselling sessions with children about mental health issues over the past four years.

Some young people have reportedly told Childline that they only received specialist support when they reached crisis point.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “Our research shows schools are increasingly referring children for specialist mental health treatment, often when the child is at crisis point.

“Childline plays a vital role in supporting children with their mental health, and many turn to us when they are struggling to get access to specialist treatment."

Dame Esther Rantzen, founder and president of Childline, added: “Our counsellors are literally saving lives, and it concerns us that we cannot help every child who desperately needs us.

“We must make sure that Childline is adequately funded so it isn’t left vulnerable and can be there for the children who have nowhere else to turn.”