Half of pupils who are expelled from school have a mental health issue, researchers have claimed.
According to analysis from the Institution for Public Policy Research (IPPR), one in every two excluded students experience mental health problems, compared to one in 50 pupils in the wider population.
The think tank said this could be as high as 100% once undiagnosed problems are taken into account, the Press Association reported.
Kiran Gill, IPPR associate fellow and founder of The Difference campaign, slammed the current system as “burningly unjust”.
“Theresa May says she is committed to improving mental health of young people,” he said.
“Addressing the most vulnerable children being thrown out of England’s schools is a good place to start. Because unequal treatment of mental health may be an injustice, but the discrimination of school exclusions is a crime.
“The Difference is fighting to break the link between school exclusion and social exclusion in a burningly unjust system, and ensure vulnerable young people get the good quality schooling they need to change their lives and trajectories.
“If the government is serious about real action on mental health, there needs to be dedicated funding and thought-through solutions rather than sticking plasters on the symptoms of the problem.”
The IPPR analysis comes on the same day official figures revealed that the equivalent of 35 pupils a day are expelled from schools in England.
Last year, state school children were expelled on 6,685 occasions - up 1,000 from the year before.
Analysts from IPPR revealed that 99% of pupils permanently excluded from mainstream schools will not achieve five good GCSEs - a benchmark often used as a sign of success at school.
Almost two-thirds of the prison population was excluded from school at some point, researchers added.
A Department for Education spokesperson told HuffPost UK that any decision to exclude a student must be “lawful, reasonable and fair”, while permanent exclusion should “only be used as a last resort”.
“This government is committed to working with local authorities and schools to ensure children in alternative provision receive a high quality education,” they said.
“We are strengthening the links between schools and NHS mental health staff and have announced plans for every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training. Later this year will publish a green paper with proposals for further improving mental health services.”
The IPPR’s findings will be published in a final report in September, which will recommend a new route into teaching focusing closely on mental health.