More children are being directed to child mental health units from UK primary schools, the BBC has learned.

46 health trusts showed referrals to child mental health services have risen by nearly 50% (21,125 to 31,531) in three years. The figures came from Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, where the public can ask for data from companies or organisations.

The Department for Education says it is “determined to improve mental health support”.

GPs, teachers and social workers are some of the people who can refer children to mental health services. The increase in numbers could be because there are more young people trying to access mental health support than before.

Seven trusts said they had rejected an individual pupil for mental health treatment at least five times over the last four years.

The FOI request also found waiting times were very long with some pupils spending more than a year on a waiting list for mental health services at 12 different trusts.

The figures follow a study in June from the charity, the Children’s Society, which found 185,000 children aged 10-17 were referred for mental health support in 2017 after speaking to their doctor (GP). 60% of those who were referred for mental health support didn’t receive any – around 110,000 young people in total.

In a statement, the Department for Education said: “We are determined to improve mental health support for children and we are transforming services through the NHS Long Term Plan – backed by an extra £2.3bn a year – so that 345,000 more children and young people have access to specialist mental health care by 2023-24.”

It said its mental health support teams are “training a new dedicated mental health workforce for schools and colleges across the country”.

There are lots of charities that provide support to young people with mental health worries, including the NSPCC, YoungMinds and the Children’s Society.

If you are upset by this news, make sure you talk about how you are feeling with friends or a trusted adult.

If you are struggling and there is no one you feel you can talk to about it, you can call Childline for free on 0800 11 11. This number does not show up on your phone bill.

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