MP backs youth work training to tackle eating disorders

Neil Puffett
Monday, February 18, 2013

Youth workers and school staff should be trained to spot the signs of eating disorders and how to offer basic help and support, an MP has said.

Around 300,000 young people have an eating disorder in England. Image: Beat
Around 300,000 young people have an eating disorder in England. Image: Beat

Speaking in a debate on eating disorders in the House of Commons, Labour MP Mary Glindon said too little is being done to help thousands of young people affected by disorders including anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating.

She said that huge numbers of young people keep their illness secret, due to stigma, while GPs often lack specialist knowledge to diagnose disorders effectively.

She added that support services are often underfunded. “Eating distress carries the highest mortality rate of any mental illness,” Glindon said. “We need a comprehensive awareness-raising programme in schools and youth services.

“Much more is needed – more training for professionals and, above all, more money for services, and more support and acknowledgment.”

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of YoungMinds, said youth organisations can play a valuable role in delivering services in school.

“Schools are desperate for specialist help in managing behaviour issues such as eating disorders in both primary and secondary and are often not aware of local voluntary and community sector services which can provide the support they need,” she said.

“Schools are often confused about alternatives to specialist CAMHS and not confident about their own ability to support mental health problems.

"The voluntary sector can provide an effective bridge between education and health, it can fill a vital gap in services and often prevent unnecessary referrals to specialist child and adolescent mental health services.”

Last year, a report by charity Beat found that more than 300,000 young people in England have an eating disorder that has a significant negative impact on their life.

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