Mental health services say they are operating at “full stretch” to balance rising numbers of service users and substantial funding cuts.

Senior figures at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust say they are being “challenged like never before” with some services seeing a 44% increase in people needing help over the last three years.

The rising number of people turning to the trust, which now sees more than 100,000 people every year, has been blamed on the pressures of increasingly difficult economic times.

The increase comes as the trust has to make major financial savings of more than £14 million in the current financial year.

Almost four people a day were detained under the Mental Health Act by the trust in the last financial year.

Last month, the trust said it was planning to move out of some of its older buildings in a bid to save millions of pounds.

Trust chief executive Lisa Rodrigues said: “Where we are developing services locally, we are spending money which we have saved by making planned surpluses in previous years.

“If we spend a penny more than we have budgeted on staffing, goods or services, we have to cut back the same amount somewhere else.”

For more on this story see today's Argus.