THE HSE have been called on to make greater efforts in tackling eating disorders after it was revealed they spent just 17% of their allocated budget to combat the issue in 2017.
Eating disorders affect up to 5% of the population and anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental health issue, with a figure of 10% attributed to it.
The HSE revealed to the Evening Echo that they spent €170,000 tackling eating disorders in 2017, despite having a budget of €1 million.
“It’s exceptionally disappointing that the HSE were unable or unwilling to spend the budget allocated to them to tackle eating disorders,” said TD for Cork North Central Billy Kelleher.
“Eating disorders are a major issue in Ireland and in Cork with rising numbers.
“They are a cause of severe anxiety and concern for many people affected and can even lead to death so everything that can be done to tackle them, must be done,” he added.
“The HSE must make greater efforts to ensure supports are in place, such as education, training and increased staff.
“Anything that would provide people with supports here in Ireland and prevent them travelling abroad for treatment would be of benefit and the HSE need to lead the way in this regard.” Childline received 133 contacts via phone lines in relation to eating disorders in 2017, a jump from 87 in 2016.
Of these calls, seven were specifically related to anorexia while three were in relation to bulimia with all of these 10 calls coming from girls.
Of the other callers, 16 were boys, 104 were girls and the gender of three was unspecified.
Meanwhile, Childline’s online service received 37 contacts in relation to eating disorders in 2017 – of these 36 were from girls and 1 was from a boy.
“In relation to increased eating disorder related contacts with Childline, yes, this is a concern,” said a spokesperson for Bodywhys.
“However, the rise in Childline’s figures shows that children are making contact and seeking help and support which is positive.”
Government figures show that more than 2,000 posts in mental health services have been approved since 2012, but we have only been able to fill 1,300 of those.
114 assistant psychologists have been recruited.
It has been estimated in other countries that only 5% to 15% of patients with EDs seek treatment (Butterfly Foundation, 2012), and indeed uptake of services seems to be lower than estimated in Ireland.
Early intervention and the right support for those living with eating disorders is extremely important, according to MyMind, a Centre for Mental Wellbeing with centres in Cork, Dublin and Limerick city, providing a wide range of clients with counselling and psychotherapy services.
“If a problem is not treated in a timely way, there is a risk that it will escalate and worsen,” said Carmen Bryce, communications officer for the group.
“This then leads to a massive strain on public services as the issue goes from manageable to chronic over time.”
MyMind offers a first appointment within a couple of days and is self-referral so it is empowering the person to take action for their mental wellbeing.
They have a team of multilingual mental health professionals who can provide support for many issues including eating disorders.
The HSE launched a new model of care for the treatment of eating disorders in Ireland on January 23 of this year with the aim of improving quality and safety as well as access to services for all ages and provide value for money in how these services are delivered.
The strategy includes a four-year implementation plan to allow for phased recruitment and training.
For further information or help contact Bodywhys helpline on 1890 200 444 or http://www.bodywhys.ie
Eating disorder services in Ireland are more important than ever as support services are seeing increased numbers at clinics, according to the clinical manager of the Eating Disorder Centre Cork.
Eating disorders affect up to 5% of the population and anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental health issue.
The Eating Disorder Centre Cork is currently working with UCC to develop information leaflets for dentists.
“It’s important to identify those with eating disorders as soon as possible,” said Trish Shiel, clinical manager of the Centre, which was established on St Patrick’s Hill 10 years ago.
“Dentists, with more information on the subject, are in an ideal place to spot this as some eating disorders are visible in a person’s teeth.”
The leaflets will be distributed across Cork as part of Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
The HSE launched a new model of care for the treatment of eating disorders in Ireland last month with the aim of improving quality and safety as well as access to services for all ages and provide value for money in how these services are delivered.
The plan includes a four-year implementation plan to allow for phased recruitment and training.
“Hopefully this will prevent people having to travel abroad for treatment if the services are made available in Ireland,” said Ms Shiel. “One family came to us last week, they had to take their daughter to the UK to be treated under the NHS,” she revealed.
The Eating Disorder Centre Cork saw a 26% increase in the use of its services in 2017, up from 9% in 2016.
“Eating disorders are a serious issue and the more supports we can set up, the better, including community-based supports,” said Ms Shiel.
“There are currently 59 people attending our own services as well as 20 carers who are parents, partners, husbands and wives, all of whom wish to learn how to deal with or help loved ones, with eating disorders. There certainly seems to be more people talking about eating disorders which is great for raising awareness,” she added.
Childline received 133 contacts via phone lines in relation to eating disorders in 2017, a jump from 87 in 2016. “Early intervention is key so it’s important for services to be there for people,” said Ms Shiel.
“While crisis intervention is sometimes necessary and it’s important to have these services in place, more emphasis needs to be placed on community-level intervention.
“We had three families in the past weeks who had to take their children to Dublin, one girl had to hospitalised,” she revealed.