Less stigma causing surge: health officials
The Department of Health has said that part of the increase in referrals was caused by a new way of recording figures.
But a spokesperson said that anecdotally growing demand for the services was also influenced by a greater awareness of young people's mental health and less stigma around admitting difficulties.
Health officials also pointed to concerns regarding the use of alcohol and drugs, the influence of social media and online bullying and school pressures - particularly regarding exams - as well as a reduction in investment in community-based services. The wider context of deprivation, the effects of the economic recession and the legacy of the Troubles also played a part, they said.
The spokesperson said: "These factors are not all quantifiable and not easy to measure but all would be generally understood and accepted as having an impact on the emotional and mental health of children and young people."
Turning to the Project Life 2 Strategy, the spokesperson said the Department was awaiting clarification on the 2019/20 budget before announcing its publication.
"However a range of actions within the strategy are already being taken forward, including crisis de-escalation services, multi-agency triage teams, and a zero suicide initiative," they said.
For example, suicide prevention training was being given to youth workers, sport coaches and directly to young people themselves.
And other services such as counselling, awareness-raising and training, self-harm intervention, bereavement support and the Lifeline crisis response are available to all age groups, the spokesperson said.