Anorexia sufferer on what needs to change to support those with eating disorders

PUBLISHED: 09:40 03 June 2019

Langford's Hannah Brown has been speaking about the changes needed when treating eating disorders. Picture: East London NHS Foundation Trust

Langford's Hannah Brown has been speaking about the changes needed when treating eating disorders. Picture: East London NHS Foundation Trust

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Read what Langford's Hannah Brown believes needs to change to provide better treatment for eating disorders after her own experience with anorexia.

Hannah Brown, pictured with her mum, runs a support site called AnEarToHear. Picture: Hannah BrownHannah Brown, pictured with her mum, runs a support site called AnEarToHear. Picture: Hannah Brown

Mental health provision is one of the hottest topics at the moment aside from the farcical Brexit negotiations, and fortunately this attention has resulted in the vast improvement of care for adolescents - particularly in the area of eating disorders.

But, as highlighted in a recent report there, appears to be a gross division between children and adult services - with the latter having to overcome a number of hurdles to access treatment with some having to wait 41 months just for a consultation.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists acknowledge a number of appalling failings, recognising that the number of hospital admissions for eating disorders have more than doubled over the last few years. Doubled!

Clearly, we do not need a professional to point out the obvious - something is going so terribly wrong. For some reason, people, and people just like me, are not getting the treatment that they desperately need and which will, undoubtedly, save their life.

Hannah Brown suffered from anorexia and now wants to help others who are going through similar experiences. Pictures: Hannah BrownHannah Brown suffered from anorexia and now wants to help others who are going through similar experiences. Pictures: Hannah Brown

So what are some of these barriers that could possibly prevent one from accessing such life-saving treatment? Surely there can be no barrier too high that would delay an intervention that is so crucial and integral?

Unfortunately, the findings of the report suggest that stipulations including body mass index (BMI) being higher than 16 or substance absue are just two examples of the criteria that services are placing on treatment provision.

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To the layman, anorexia is personified by the skeletal frame… but to the sufferer, to the person behind the diagnosis, to me standing here with a BMI higher than 16, my mental health is as bad as it was at a BMI of 14.

The answer, like everything, is to be found in additional resource, to ensure that the money signposted for mental health is equally distributed to include eating disorders.

Once this money is signposted however, it is essential that we ring-fence it, keep it protected, ensuring that it is invested in improving service for the people who, like me, desperately need that support.

Disturbingly, and heartbreakingly those with an eating disorder are twice as likely to die prematurely than the general population. We know that early intervention could prevent the continuing rise in prevalence could prevent the number of hospital admissions and could most importantly save lives.

There is no question to be answered.

We have to act, think outside the box and ensure that access to treatment is swift, appropriate and consistent.

Hannah runs aneartohear.co.uk - a peer support recovery site designed to facilitate therapy.

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, or if you would like to discuss how Hannah can support your organisation, then please get in touch with her.

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