Chil­dren in need of ‘help’ as eat­ing dis­or­ders spi­ral

Sunday Express - - CRISIS IN MENTAL HEALTH - By Lucy John­ston

MORE than 300 peo­ple a week are be­ing ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal with po­ten­tially lifethreat­en­ing eat­ing dis­or­ders, with a sharp rise in young pa­tients.

More boys than ever are now re­ceiv­ing hos­pi­tal treat­ment for eat­ing dis­or­ders.

Ex­perts say in­creased stress at school and the pres­sure from im­age-ob­sessed so­cial me­dia plat­forms only partly ex­plain the in­creases in ad­mis­sions.

Tom Mad­ders, Cam­paigns Direc­tor of men­tal health char­ity Young Minds, said: “This is a re­minder of the im­por­tance of early in­ter­ven­tion.”

Fig­ures from NHS Dig­i­tal show 16,023 peo­ple were ad­mit­ted be­tween 2017-2018. That is al­most dou­ble the num­ber of 8,835 ad­mis­sions five years ago in 2012-2013.

Chil­dren aged 10 to 15 are the worst af­fected, ac­cord­ing to sep­a­rate NHS Dig­i­tal fig­ures. In 2010/11 some 775 (15 a week) were ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal.

By 2017-18, that had risen two-and-a-half times to 1,993 (38 a week). The num­ber of boys be­ing treated in hos­pi­tal for eat­ing dis­or­ders also reached a record high. Ad­mis­sions for boys aged 10 to 18 around the UK nearly dou­bled from 94 across 2010/11 to 173 in 2016/17.

Patchy cov­er­age of ser­vices has led to peo­ple even mov­ing home to get ef­fec­tive care, re­search shows. Re­becca Field, spokes­woman for the eat­ing dis­or­der char­ity Beat, said: “Eat­ing dis­or­ders are very com­plex men­tal ill­nesses.

“While the rise in chil­dren and young peo­ple be­ing treated for eat­ing dis­or­ders doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean the prob­lem is get­ting worse, it is clear that there is a vi­tal need for lo­cal ser­vices with the fund­ing and re­sources to pro­vide spe­cial­ist care, fast, for ev­ery­one who needs it.”

Fig­ures show grow­ing num­bers of very young chil­dren hos­pi­talised. Some 68 aged nine and un­der were ad­mit­ted be­tween 2010 and 2011. That rose to 96 in 2016-2017. Sep­a­rate NHS data shows that one in eight aged be­tween five and

19 were di­ag­nosed with a men­tal dis­or­der in 2017. Dr Lee Hud­son, one of Bri­tain’s lead­ing ex­perts in child­hood eat­ing dis­or­ders, said: “We know chil­dren as young as six are pre­sent­ing with eat­ing dis­or­ders. I am con­cerned there are more hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions for these young age groups sug­gest­ing they are so se­vere they can­not be man­aged in the com­mu­nity.

“To say this is so­cial me­dia and im­ages of cat­walk mod­els is too sim­ple. How­ever, in gen­eral, we know many chil­dren and young peo­ple are not get­ting timely ac­cess to ser­vices for many men­tal health con­di­tions. Can you imag­ine if we couldn’t get ac­cess to can­cer ser­vices in the same way?” An es­ti­mated 1.25 mil­lion have an eat­ing dis­or­der, ac­cord­ing to Beat. Anorexia ner­vosa has the high­est mor­tal­ity rate of any men­tal ill­ness while eat­ing dis­or­ders can lead to or­gan dam­age.

Louie Dil­lon, 25, one of six sib­lings from Colch­ester, was first di­ag­nosed with an eat­ing dis­or­der at 12. He said: “I was mad on ex­er­cise. My body was scream­ing for food but I didn’t ac­knowl­edge the signs. My body im­age was just so im­por­tant and I wanted to look like ath­letes.”

At 5ft 4in, his weight plum­meted to just six stone. “I gen­uinely didn’t know I was ill.” He was re­ferred to a Cam­bridge-based NHS eat­ing dis­or­der res­i­den­tial cen­tre where he spent seven months re­cov­er­ing. Louie, now a fa­ther-of-three, added: “I love food. I still enjoy my fit­ness but my mind­set has changed.”

ILL­NESS: Louie Dil­lon at 12 and to­day, right

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.