CAMPAIGNERS fear an increasing number of children are detained by police after reaching a “crisis point” in their mental health.

Figures from the Home Office suggest that dozens of youths were detained by Sussex Police under the Mental Heath Act last year.

Charities say it is a sign that some are reaching a breaking point, without getting access to early mental health care.

But health chiefs say they are doing more to provide care and intervention for youngsters, while Brighton and Hove City Council says there are also psychologists, mental health workers, and specialists working in schools and colleges.

In Sussex, there were 59 youngsters detained under the Mental Health Act by the police in the year 2018 to 2019.

Nationally, figures released by NHS England show that 398,346 children and young people were waiting for their second contact for mental health services between April 2018 and March 2019, with the average waiting time being 59 days.

YoungMinds campaigns director Tom Madders said: “Unfortunately, young people across the country too often can’t get effective mental health support until they reach crisis point.

“If the Government wants to reduce the number of young people who become so unwell that they need hospital treatment, it needs to make early intervention a priority – through the NHS, in schools and in local communities.”

Police can detain people under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act but only for up to 24 hours.

Section 136 of the Act says that an officer can take a person to, or keep them at, a place of safety if it appears they have a mental disorder and are in need of immediate care and control.

The police say that since changes in the Mental Health Act were made in 2017, children and adults are no longer taken to police stations as a “place of safety”.

There are teams in place to assess people’s needs across the county.

Children’s mental health care is provided by the Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust.

Operations director Ruth Hillman said the trust is “committed” to helping youngsters, and said the home treatment service is being expanded.

There will also be a new hospital as “place of safety” to support youngsters in crisis.