Thousands of children and young people have been in contact with mental health services in Mid Essex over the last year, new figures show.

Children's mental health charity YoungMinds said the figures are "harrowing", especially as students receive grades for A-level and GCSE exams.

NHS Digital figures show 3,605 children and young people had at least one contact with mental health services in the NHS Mid Essex CCG area in the 12 months to May.

This was up from 3,565 in April and the most since local figures were first recorded in July 2021.

YoungMinds said the figures paint a "shocking picture" of the mental health of young people in the country.

It put the rise in children accessing mental health care down to a number of factors, including the pandemic and school pressures.

Olly Parker, head of external affairs, said: "The pandemic has certainly deepened the crisis in young people’s mental health, with huge disruption to students’ education, many of whom were also dealing with multiple pressures like difficult home environments, bereavement and other trauma."

The Department for Health and Social Care said supporting children's mental health is a "major priority" and that it invested £79 million in 2021-22 to expand services to support more than 22,000 children and young people.