Eating Disorder Awareness Week highlights major issues with mental health services

By Catrin Whitehead

The Prime Minister has criticised celebrity endorsement of diet suppressants during yesterday’s Prime Minister Question Time (PMQT), this follows rising numbers of people suffering from eating disorders.

An estimated 1.25 million people in the UK are living with an eating disorder according to Beat – a leading charity on the subject. Research has also shown that hospital admissions for eating disorders have increased by a third in the last decade.

Monday marked the beginning of Eating Disorder Awareness Week: a campaign aimed at drawing attention to the consequences and standard of care surrounding these illnesses. Over recent months celebrity endorsed diet products have come under heavy-fire from health professionals and widespread public concern, which was mirrored when Theresa May, said:

“…celebrities who are doing that should think very carefully about the impact that these products can have in having the effect of eating disorders which can devastate people’s lives.”

The worrying surge in diagnosis and admissions led to the Government announcing a £150 million investment for services in 2015. The aim was to improve waiting times and access standards by 2020. The promise was that 95% of people would be treated within 18 weeks of first seeking help.

However, the services in Liverpool are still severely stretched; The current waiting time for treatment is between 3-6 months and the service does not provide a dietician or nutritionist due to a limited budget. Under the current structure patients are referred for support by their GP’s. But General Practitioners only receive an hour and a half of training on eating disorders and many still don’t recognise the warning signs. The lack of understanding combined with tedious waiting times can prove to be dangerous in an illness where early intervention is key.

Ffion Roscoe, mental health professional, said: “I think an assessment and diagnosis by a consultant psychiatrist is imperative to ensure people access the right support at the right time”

Eating disorder patients in Merseyside are not usually supported by the Community Mental Health Team leaving them “bouncing from one person or place to another” without “one point of contact.”

She continued: “ There needs to be clear crisis and support plans for people and how to access support out of hours.”

For more information and support contact:

Beat –  0808 801 0677 or 0808 801 0711 for the Youthline

TEDs (Eating Disorder Support group in Liverpool) – Facebook profile

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