Thousands of children and young people have been in contact with mental health services in Gloucestershire 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.

The charity said increasing pressure at school and the impact of lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic has affected young people's mental health, leading to a huge number of children needing support across England.

NHS Digital figures show 7,095 children and young people had at least one contact with mental health services in the NHS Gloucestershire CCG area in the 12 months to May.

This was up from 7,090 in April and a 16 per cent rise from the 6,095 in July last year, when local figures were first recorded.

Across England, the number of children who had at least one contact with mental health services in the last year rose by 21 per cent from 570,000 in the year to March 2021 – when national records began – to 690,000 in the year to May.

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."

Mr Parker also said schools do not have the resources to support the wellbeing of their students, who have felt particularly worried about exams since returning to school following the pandemic.

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.

A spokesperson added it is expanding mental health support teams to cover three million pupils by 2024 and is increasing investment in services by at least £2.3 billion per year by 2024.