Action Month highlights hidden impact of eating disorders
By sophia1980 | Thursday, November 01, 2012, 16:18
A call has been made by a national charity for greater resources to be put into Mental Health services to recognise the life-threatening nature of eating disorders and provide better treatment.
Jane Smith at the House of Commons
Anorexia and Bulimia Care, set up 23 ago to provide advice and support to people affected by eating disorders, is launching a month of action in November at a special reception in the House of Commons. They say eating disorders are too-often portrayed as extreme dieting and only affecting teenage girls.
In fact people of all ages can develop eating disorders often leading to death or suicide. The impact goes beyond the individual with parents, siblings, the wider family, friends and teachers all affected by the physical and emotional consequences of these illnesses.
The launch event for the Action Month will take place on 1 November, hosted by Tessa Munt MP and with guest speaker Dr Dee Dawson, a specialist in childhood eating disorders, who for over 20 years ran a London in-patient clinic for children and adolescents with severe eating disorders.
Attending the launch will be MPs with an interest in eating disorders, those involved in care for sufferers, ABC medical advisors and ambassadors and health professionals.
The Action Month will be an annual event and aims to equip MPs and health professionals with insight from recovered sufferers and family, with whom they can speak, face to face.
Tessa Munt MP (Lib Dem, Wells) said: "So many young lives are lost through the affects of eating disorders and it is time this issue was taken more seriously and recognised for what it is – a serious mental health problem in our society that needs to be addressed.
"The media concentrate on the issue of body image and young girls trying to look like supermodels and those in the health services and in Government have not prioritised it as a major issue to date. In fact it is a major cause of teenage suicide and is a major problem with older people who have lost a life partner, suffered redundancy or some other life trauma.
"During this month of action we want to raise awareness but also see some real changes in attitude and improvements in care."
Jane Smith Director of Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC) said: "Eating disorders are often portrayed as a vain or selfish act. In reality they are serious mental illnesses, triggered by a variety of complex factors including bullying, other forms of abuse and bereavement, and those suffering are using food restriction in order to cope.
"Suicide is a major cause of death among people with anorexia. Having someone you love suffer from anorexia and bulimia is devastating. Partners and parents often blame themselves and the knock-on effect on society is enormous. Caring for someone with an eating disorder is long and tough and beyond the experience of most people.
After 23 years supporting the public in their thousands we must address the inadequacies of care in order to prevent untimely deaths and help people to recover. Having the opportunity to bring those who have recovered, as well as parents who have lost a child into a dialogue with MPs and medical professionals is a major step forward."
Anorexia and Bulimia Care, which was founded 23 years ago, provides advice and support for anyone affected by anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and other eating disorders. 13,000 people visit its website each month and ABC takes 450 personal enquiries monthly. The charity is also a resource for counsellors, schools and those who work with young people.
Latest figures show hospital admissions for eating disorders rose by 16% from last year to 2,288. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of any mental illness, at around 20%.