Tackling the problems of eating disorders

Ami Everall is a member of the Great Yarmouth Youth Advisory Board. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Ami Everall is a member of the Great Yarmouth Youth Advisory Board. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Eating disorders are something which is believed will affect one in four and approximately 1.25 million people in the UK at some point, with 14-25-year-olds being the most affected.

Someone suffering with an eating disorder will usually find that it is not only them who is affected but also friends and families as they watch the person struggle often feeling as though they are practically helpless.

However, with that statistic are we only touching the surface of the number of people who have disordered eating?

When eating disorders are mentioned it is common that a stereotypical idea comes to mind, perhaps of a person refusing to eat and being 'anorexic' or of someone who binges on food and then purges which is then presented as being very overweight or 'bulimic'.

But some people suffer conditions that don't fit into these categories and are not included in the statistics provided previously.

For a lot of these people who don't fit into the well-known symptoms and characteristics of 'anorexia' or 'bulimia' help is often a lot harder to find if it is available or offered at all.

CAMHS, the mental health service for children and young people, is often the first port of call for young people and their families when signs of disordered eating are first suspected or recognised; the families often feel that CAMHS is their last hope and trust them to give the person the support and guidance they need.

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However, I have known young people who have been turned away from this service because they were deemed as a 'healthy weight' at the time; but surely this defeats the object of trying to not only stop an eating disorder in its early stages but also giving help to those who don't fit into a 'typical' eating disorder category?

The way CAMHS and indeed many other people view eating disorders needs to be changed and allow a wider view of the problem of disordered eating and the way it can be displayed in a person thus hopefully allowing many more young people to access help.

Every young person suffering with disordered eating deserves to get the help and support they need on their journey to get better, not to be outcast and told they are 'not ill enough' by a service designed to help those in need.

Ami Everall is a member of the Great Yarmouth Youth Advisory Board.

The Young People's EDP Takeover is in association with The Inspiration Trust.