child receiving therapy

Ten thousand children receiving treatment for eating disorder in space of nine months

The NHS are treating a record number of children and young people (CYP) for eating disorders according to latest figures.

Between April and December last year, nearly 10,000 CYP began treatment for eating disorders, which is an increase of over a quarter since the same period the year prior.

The increased demand on mental health services during the pandemic has seen an additional £79 million in funding put into children’s mental health which will allow for 2,000 more CYP to begin eating disorder treatment.

Claire Murdoch, NHS Mental Health Director said: “NHS services remained open throughout the pandemic as hard-working mental health staff worked to deliver care to more people than ever before.

“The NHS continues to see record-high numbers of young people for eating disorders and it is vital anybody who might need care comes forward as quickly as possible so the NHS can get you any care you may need.

“Parents can find information on potential symptoms, such as binge eating, feeling guilty after eating, and negative self-image, and other signs of a potential eating disorder are available on the NHS website and they should not hesitate to contact the NHS if they think their child might need some support”.

The pandemic is thought to have increased the number of children needing to access mental health services drastically due to the unpredictability of COVID-19 and the isolation and disruption to everyday life young people experienced.

Each year mental health services will receive an additional £2.3 billion as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

In statistics published by the NHS, 59 percent of children in urgent case start treatment within one week of referral, in routine cases this drops to 26.4 percent.

In the same data published, the NHS have revealed that there were 203 incomplete pathways for urgent cases in quarter three of 2021-22 and 1,918 incomplete pathways for routine cases.

Professor Prathiba Chitsabesan, NHS Associate Clinical Director for Children and Young People’s Mental Health and psychiatrist has listed ways in which family, friends and carers of those experiencing an eating disorder can help to support them here.

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NHE May/June 2024

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