Mental health referrals made through Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) saw the second largest difference in England compared to the start of the pandemic, according to statistics.

The latest figures, collected by the BBC’s Shared Data Unit, reveal that 1,330 referrals were made through the CCG in March 2021, a rise of 113 per cent from the total seen in February 2020.

Across the country, referrals rose 19pc between the two monthly figures, with 279,995 referrals made through 117 NHS CCGs in March 2021.

Newham saw referrals rise by 20pc, Tower Hamlets experienced a 25pc rise, while referrals in Havering rose by 14pc.

Geoff Heyes, head of health policy at the mental health charity Mind, said that the rise in referrals had been expected since the start of the pandemic.

He said that the charity’s own analysis showed that 23pc of adults and 18pc of young people had experienced mental health problems in the past year.

He added: “The same research also revealed that existing inequalities in housing, employment, finances and other issues have had a greater impact on the mental health of people of colour than white people and on those living in deprivation."

He said it was understandable that mental health services have had to change during the pandemic, but that digitally delivered services “must not be seen as a simple answer for overstretched mental health services”.

“We must see people getting the support they ask for, in the way they ask for it, early on,” he added.

Dr Anil Mehta, clinical chair for Redbridge at NHS North East London Clinical Commissioning Group, said that it "never been more important to seek help when you need it".

He added: “People might feel nervous about burdening the NHS but our mental health is just as important as our physical health so please speak to your GP or self-refer online so we can ensure you receive the support you need."

Urgent crisis care referrals – made when a patient is suffering a more serious mental health crisis – were also at their highest levels across the country in two years.

These referrals were down across much of east London, although Newham CCG reported a 62pc average monthly increase.

Data on the monthly number of mental health referrals was collected from the NHS mental health services monthly statistics.