A new network will be launched today in a bid to tackle the "catastrophic" youth mental health crisis in West Cumbria.

More than 70 people will take part in the all-day conference and launch of the West Cumbria Youth Mental Health Network.

The group has been set up by county councillor Rebecca Hanson, who has described the situation as "catastrophic".

"As a county councillor I'm out listening to people, the concerns I have heard about youth mental health have been overwhelming. I've been really shocked at what I have heard," said Councillor Hanson, who is network chairman.

"I have many friends working in secondary schools here who have told me about the seriously deteriorating situation, the increase in demand for services and extremely long waiting lists for help.

"At a time when most of the UK is suffering from very serious challenges in providing youth mental health services, the situation in Cumbria is worse than anywhere else due to very high and rapidly increasing levels of demand, the near total collapse of CAMHs services and geographical isolation."

Representatives from West Cumbria’s secondary schools will meet with those who provide services at the conference at Whitehaven Golf Club.

“The key problem is that the people who are worried about this issue are widely spread over many organisations," said Councillor Hanson.

"To make progress we have to bring them all together and that’s what is happening today.

"We will map out what’s going on, develop a voice for our issues, share ideas and create solutions.”

Jonathan Logan is headteacher at West Cumbria Learning Centre and vice-chair of the mental health network.

"Jonathan was worrying about this separately from me and was keen to get schools to work together. It was great to link up with him," said Councillor Hanson.

"We want to create a network that starts from schools."

Mr Logan said: "There is much excellent work going on. Schools are coming together to create a joint curriculum for mental health and young people are creating their own campaigns and services.

"Important major employers are supporting new projects and NHS trusts are bringing fresh energy to our services.

"Now that we are all working together we have the chance to become nationally leading in the services we provide."

The conference is funded by Cumbria County Council.

Councillor Hanson said: "The key thing we need is to create a voice that describes what's going on and what we want."