Britney Spears has seen a psychiatrist regarding her fragile mental state according to a close friend of the singer.

Legendary US talk show host Barbara Walters said she had been contacted by the Toxic star's manager and confidante Sam Lufti, who had said Spears was seeking help for "mental issues which are treatable".

"He said she has been to a psychiatrist," the 78-year-old presenter told her co-presenters on The View. "She, I assume, is starting some kind of treatment."

The 26-year-singer saw her visitation rights to her two children suspended indefinitely earlier this month after a public standoff with police when she refused to hand sons Sean Preston and Jayden James over to her ex-husband Kevin Federline's bodyguard at an appointed pickup time.

The custody dispute between Spears and Federline has dragged on for months, with the singer frequently arriving at the courthouse hours late or failing to enter the hearings at all.

According to Walters, Lufti "got in touch" with the show to address some of the rumours surrounded the troubled star.

"She has been having mood swings. She's been having trouble sleeping, and also she is in touch with her mother - and her mother has been very supportive of whatever it is that Britney is going to do," she added.

When her fellow presenters questioned the likelihood of Lufti telling the truth, Walters replied: "I don't know if anybody is telling the truth or not telling the truth," adding: "He has been with her constantly. He seems to be enormously supportive."

According to court documents released today, Spears will be permitted to speak to her sons on the telephone but will still not be permitted to see them.

"[Spears] is to have telephonic contact with the minor children," Commissioner Scott Gordon ruled last week. "All prior orders remain in full force and effect."

29/01/2008 11:54:33