Girl looking at scales

FREED eating disorder scheme expands into Sefton

The ‘First Episode Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorders’ (FREED) scheme is set to be extended into Sefton, with the aim of supporting even more young people and adults battling eating disorders.

The FREED service is currently being run by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust across Liverpool and as of today will be available across Sefton to 16 to 25-year-olds who have had an eating disorder for three years or less.

The purpose of the scheme is to enable the people suffering from eating disorders to be seen earlier and through a step-by-step approach, which aims to provide a more effective and efficient intervention first type of care.

One in seven women are expected to suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime, and with eating disorders also having the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder, tackling them head on is a priority for the health sector.

Peak onset for eating disorders is experienced during adolescence and young adulthood – this combined with national referrals increasing due to the backlog induced by the effects of Covid-19, the FREED scheme is continuing to expand its reach across the country.

Dr Charlotte Jewell, Mersey Care's Clinical Psychologist and Sefton FREED Champion, said: “Studies suggest the first three years of illness are crucial in treating eating disorders.

“Eating disorders tend to persist over time and the longer a young person is unwell, the more likely it is they experience significant issues so we’re really excited to have the opportunity to extend the FREED service to Sefton. We’re confident that early intervention will support good outcomes for young adults with eating disorders across Sefton, like it has in Liverpool.”

The FREED initiative is a flexible and evidence-based service and focuses on, much like many other recent NHS rollouts, early intervention in order to give health professionals the best chance to reverse the changes the eating disorder has caused to the brain and body.

Sefton FREED will also join the national FREED network, which integrates other specialist eating disorder services that are using the model up and down the country.

More information about the FREED scheme is available here.

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NHE May/June 2024

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