Support service reaches out to help families as eating disorders soar

Debbie Watson is launching Wednesday’s Child to help those struggling with mental health. Photo: War

Debbie Watson, founder of Wednesday's Child, which helps people with eating disorders and their families. Picture: Warren Page - Credit: Archant

As record numbers of young people struggle with eating disorders due to the strain of Covid, a Suffolk support service is reaching out to help families. 

New national figures show the number of children and young people in England waiting for urgent eating disorder treatment has almost quadrupled during the coronavirus pandemic.

The NHS England data reveals there were 207 under-19s waiting for urgent eating disorder treatment at the end of June, up from 56 at the same time last year, and the highest total in records going back to 2016. The figure for those waiting "routine" treatment had also risen from 441 to 1,832.

Suffolk has also seen a dramatic rise in referrals, and Wednesday’s Child, a not-for-profit Suffolk organisation which works with young people with eating disorders, has seen a doubling of enquiries for therapy and befriending compared to March 2020.

Founder Debbie Watson said: "Referral rates are definitely up in Suffolk and waiting times are longer, so families are getting to the point of real distress."

As well as supporting families, Wednesday's Child is also offering training to teachers who want help to recognise eating disorders and give support when the new term starts.  

Wednesday's Child is offering a funded two-day online course from October 8-9, to help parents and carers seeking to support an adult with an eating disorder. 

Miss Watson said: “Families across Suffolk have been doing their best throughout the pandemic to get the right support and treatment for loved ones affected by an eating disorder.

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“Adult sufferers in particular, have seen lengthy waiting lists as a result of sheer demand, so this course will enable us to ‘upskill’ family members and informal carers, in how to provide the best level of support possible – whether or not other interventions are in place.”

The workshop is rooted in the principles of Emotion Focused Family Therapy and is to be led by EFFT specialist Jennifer Danby, to help families support their loved ones through a recovery journey.

It is open to a limited number of parents or carers, who must live in Suffolk, and must be seeking to help an adult with an eating disorder. Wednesday’s Child is receiving funding from Suffolk Community Foundation, as part of their Suffolk Carers Fund, to offer the course.

For more details of the course, email Wednesday's Child. For more information about Wednesday’s Child and referring a loved one, send an email or visit the website. 

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