The number of hospital admissions in West Sussex for patients with drug related mental health issues has increased by a fifth in the last four years.
Charities have warned that this rise could be due to high strength cannabis and amphetamines, which they say can cause schizophrenia, depression and psychosis.
There were 797 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 latest figures from NHS England that is a rise of 20% from four years ago, when these records began.
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.”
The data shows more men were admitted to hospital than women.
Of West Sussex’s 797 admissions, 576 were made by men and 221 by women. Drugs tended to be a contributing factor for mental health issues, rather than the main cause. There were 56 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.
Speaking about the rise, Ms Hamm added: “More awareness of the problem could be one reason, 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.”
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 172 admissions, a slight rise of 8 on the previous year.
Compared with four years ago, when these records began, there has been a 38% increase in hospital admissions for illegal drugs overdoses.