THERE have been almost 200 hospital admissions in Herefordshire for drug related mental health issues, according to the latest figures.

Charities have warned that these numbers could be due to high strength cannabis and amphetamines, which they say can cause schizophrenia, depression and psychosis.

There were 162 admission episodes for mental illnesses or behaviour disorders where the main cause or a contributing factor was drugs, between April 2016 and March 2017.

According to the NHS England figures that is a drop of 4% from four years ago, when these records began. And it's 51 fewer admissions than last year.

Danielle Hamm, from Rethink Mental Illness, commented: "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 can 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, although figures show a decrease in many areas in the last year."

The data shows more men were admitted to hospital than women.

Of Herefordshire's 162 admissions, 127 were made by men and 35 by women. Drugs tended to be a contributing factor for mental health issues, rather than the main cause.

There were 12 cases where they were diagnosed as the primary reason for behaviour disorders.

These figures only indicate the number of admissions, not patients. They could include one patient who has been to hospital several times over the year.

Ms Hamm continued: "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."

The NHS statistics also give the number of admissions for patients who have overdosed on illegal drugs, such as ecstasy or heroin.

From April 2016 to March 2017 there were 29 admissions, a slight decrease of seven on the previous year.

Compared with four years ago, when these records began, there has been a 6% decrease in hospital admissions for illegal drugs overdoses.