Government plan for children’s mental health should ensure eating disorders are treated fast

Posted 25/07/2018

The Government has today published plans to extend mental health provision in English schools and colleges, following a public consultation last year.

Reacting to the announcement that the Government will fund new Mental Health Support Teams in schools and colleges and encourage them to appoint members of staff to coordinate their approach to mental health, Beat’s Chief Executive Andrew Radford said:

“We welcome the Government’s decision to focus on early support for mental health with these proposals, and their recognition of the key role that schools and colleges can play.

“Schools and colleges should have the resources to support children with eating disorders to stay in the school system under the new plans.

“However, school mental health support teams will not be equipped to treat eating disorders and the Government must now follow up on these improvements by doing more to reduce the more than two years it takes for children, on average, to get referred for specialist treatment.

“Schools and colleges will only be able to deal effectively with these illnesses if they can refer pupils to specialist services that have enough resources and staff to provide treatment fast.

“Most people suffering from an eating disorder first experience symptoms when they are at school. It is therefore essential that the promised mental health training for staff in schools and colleges includes eating disorders.

“With the right training schools and colleges are more able to spot the signs of an eating disorder, provide appropriate support and ensure children are referred for treatment quickly at a time when they have the best chance of recovery.”

Notes to editors

  • Case studies are available to speak about their experiences of an eating disorder in schools. Beat spokespeople are available for interview and comment.
  • A summarised version of Beat’s response to the public consultation is available here.
  • Beat works with NHS Trusts across England to offer training on eating disorders for educational professionals.
  • Research published by Beat shows that it takes an average of more than two years for a child to get treatment for an eating disorder. The longest delay – 69 weeks – is due to them not realising they have an eating disorder. A further 39 weeks passes, on average, before they visit a GP.
  • Beat’s media guidelines are designed to help journalists report on eating disorders in an accurate and sensitive manner.
  • Beat is the UK’s eating disorder charity. More information at: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/

Contact information:

Jamie Osborn | media@beateatingdisorders.org.uk | 01603 753316

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