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‘Without your help, I am not sure if my daughter would be here today’ —new service supports young people with eating disorders

11 January 2017

17 year old Leah was losing weight rapidly as a result of restricting her food intake. She had low self-confidence and her family was worried. Her GP referred her to the new Community eating disorder service for children and young people (CEDS-CYP), where she was assessed within two days and diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.

Leah and her family were offered Family-based Treatment with a family therapist. This included psycho-education and guidance on managing meals.

“The service has helped me a lot. At one point I didn’t know if we would make it. Without this help, I am not sure if my daughter would be here today,” said Leah’s mother.

Nine months after her referral to the service, Leah has a healthy weight and is now managing three meals a day. She said the hardest part of her recovery was breaking the cycle of “disordered eating” but that the support she received from the service was “invaluable.”

“It is a constant reminder that you are not alone, that you can survive this and it's a tangible reassurance that recovery is the right choice.”

Early detection and treatment key

The new service is a collaboration amongst the North West London Clinical Commissioning Groups, CNWL and West London Mental Health Trust, both of whom provide Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) services. 

CEDS-CYP offers community-based treatment to young people up to the age of 18 with a suspected or confirmed eating disorder diagnosis, across six boroughs —Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon, Kensington, and Chelsea and Westminster.

Since it opened its doors last April, 79 young people have been referred to the North-West London service. 23 of them have been successfully dealt with or signposted to other services.

Dr Frances Conan, Clinical Director and Consultant Psychiatrist in Eating Disorders said, “It's wonderful that children and young people with concerns about eating and weight can now access expert help quickly and easily, close to home. Concerned parents can also access the service, even if their daughter or son is not wanting help. It's great to see that the service is already making a really significant difference to the lives of young people with eating disorders in NW London.

Dr Anila George, Team Lead (also a clinical psychologist) said early diagnosis and treatment is crucial.

“This allows us to offer a timely intervention before the eating disordered behaviours become entrenched and ensure a shorter recovery.  Family involvement is essential to the treatment as we understand the family does not cause the eating disorder, but are one of the best sources of support to solve the problem.”

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are mental health conditions that can cause long term and sometimes life-threatening health problems. Research suggests it is a growing problem amongst young people, with around 1 million in the UK affected.* But with early diagnosis and treatment, a third of young people fully recover.

Ask Leah, who’s just started cognitive behavioural therapy with the service. She’s preparing to take up a place at university in the autumn and is working on establishing more independent eating.

The service will host an open house event on January 30 for its stakeholders – GPs, schools, colleges health care professionals and service users. To learn more about the event or to RSVP please click here.

Additional information

CEDS-CYP offers consultations, assessments and interventions. The service is provided by a multidisciplinary team lead by Philippa Buckley (Consultant Psychiatrist in Eating Disorders) and includes psychology, family therapy and nursing. It accepts referrals from GPs, healthcare professionals, schools, colleges as well as self-referrals from young people or parents and carers.  

People who live in Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster wanting to use the service should call 020 3315 3369

*Research by support charity Beat