THE number of patients admitted to hospital in Warrington with drug-related mental health problems has increased by a fifth.

Drugs were either the main cause of or a contributing factor to a total of 327 admission to hospitals in the town for mental illness or behaviour disorders between April 2016 and March 2017.

These figures – consisting of 237 men and 90 women – are a rise of 21 per cent compared to four years ago, when records began.

While drugs were mainly a contributing factor to mental health issues, they were the primary reason for behavioural disorders in the case of 44 hospital admissions.

Meanwhile, 95 people were admitted to hospital after overdosing on drugs including heroin or ecstasy during the same period – 17 per cent higher than four years ago.

Charity Rethink Mental Illness has warned that the rise could be caused by strong strains of cannabis and amphetamines, which can result in schizophrenia, depression and psychosis.

Danielle Hamm from Rethink Mental Illness said: “Certain drugs have been known to prompt a mental illness – for example strong cannabis, known as skunk, has been linked to schizophrenia.

“We also know that using drugs when you have a mental health problem can complicate your recovery and increase the likelihood of self-harm and suicide.

“We need more research on this as it’s a complex area, and there are a myriad of reasons for the rise in people being admitted to hospital because of both drug and mental health problems over the last decade.

“More awareness of the problem could be one reason for the rise, or if a drug and alcohol unit in an area has closed then it would also affect the number of people going to the nearest hospital for treatment.

“We also don’t know whether it’s the same people being admitted over and over, or different people every time.

“The details are hazy, but the most important thing is that people who are in need know where to go to get help, so we would encourage anyone who is worried about their mental health and their drug use to contact their GP.”