Over 1.25 million people in the UK of all ages, genders and backgrounds have an eating disorder, with around 100,000 individuals in Scotland currently living with a diagnosis.
Yesterday, one of my constituents who lives with an eating disorder came to speak to me at my public advice in the Scottish Parliament. They shared their own horrific experiences and also talked to me about Beat, which is the UK’s eating disorder charity with a vision to end the pain and suffering that comes with the condition.
These are serious mental illnesses and they can be fatal.
Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of all mental illness and the mortality rate for other eating disorders are also high. However, they are treatable and a full recovery is possible. The sooner that someone gets the treatment they need, the more likely they are to make a full and sustained recovery and the lower the costs to the NHS.
Despite this, the average duration between the initial onset of eating disorder symptoms and starting specialist treatment is three-and-a-half years.
It’s time for action to be taken to ensure that every person affected by an eating disorder can receive timely treatment they deserve.
That means ending the wait by reducing waiting times with the introduction of specific waiting time standards for CAMHS and adult patients. Improving medical professional’s skills through increasing training on eating disorders for medical students and junior doctors and reviewing eating disorder services by improving provision and access to specialist eating disorder services for all.
Last year Beat helped over 2000 people in Scotland. This year they are set to help even more. It’s time for the politicians to do their bit.