Campaigners say Â£ 5million funding to fight eating disorders has come at a critical time as demand for a charity nearly tripled amid the pandemic.
Since the coronavirus began sweeping the world, more and more eating disorder patients are presenting “later and much worse” than before.
Charitable inquiries nearly tripled in the past year, while referrals to child and youth mental health services have seen an “unprecedented increase.”
A national review of eating disorders services was carried out in March and the Scottish government announced a Â£ 5million package to expand the range of treatments available for eating disorders.
Part of the money will be donated to the Beat charity, which has seen demand for its services increase 195% since the start of the pandemic.
A group to oversee future changes will also be set up and co-chaired by Aberdeenshire Councilor and former MSP Dennis Robertson, whose daughter died from anorexia nervosa in 2011.
Hopefully the money can be used to intervene before people get too sick from an eating disorder.
The sooner a person receives treatment, the less likely it is that their condition will become serious enough to warrant hospitalization.
Exclusive figures from the NHS Grampian have revealed a gradual decline in the number of patients hospitalized with an eating disorder – suggesting that early intervention efforts are paying off.
In 2020, 33 patients were admitted to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital or the Royal Cornhill Clinic for these conditions.
This marked a decrease from 36 in 2019, 42 in 2018 and 43 in 2017.
Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett said early interventions are “absolutely essential” to deal with such illnesses.
âBy the time someone is sick enough to be admitted to an ARI, the eating disorder is so deeply ingrained that it may take years of treatment to fully recover,â he added.
âThe pandemic has of course made things more difficult, and digital media is often not an option as people can have a strong reaction to the use of screens.
âAs we carefully set up the services, I would like us to focus on helping these vulnerable patients in person. “
He added, âIt is high time that such an important treatment route received additional funding.
“The crucial thing will be to get the money out now and make sure that it contributes significantly to early diagnosis and treatment.”
Charitable assistance available
Tom Quinn of Beat, formerly the Eating Disorders Association, said, âThe sooner a person gets help for their eating disorder, the better their chances of a full recovery.
âWe look forward to partnering with services across Scotland to ensure that people with eating disorders and their families get the support they need.
âThe pandemic has been particularly difficult for those affected by eating disorders, with demand for our helpline increasing by 195%, and this remains a critical time for eating disorders services throughout. the country.
âIt is essential that the additional money pledged by the Scottish Government reaches the frontlines as soon as possible and that the recommendations of the recent overhaul of the Eating Disorder Services are implemented quickly. “
The association’s helpline is available every day of the year, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends and public holidays.
He can be reached on 0808 801 0677, with his student line on 0808 801 0811 and the youth service on 0808 801 0711.
Information on email and online chat support is available at beateatingdisorders.org.uk