Treatment Targets for Eating Disorders

A Westminster debate held during Eating Disorder Awareness Week today heard that Scottish treatment targets “have to be addressed” or risk young lives.

Angus MP Kirstene Hair secured the debate following a digital awareness campaign and has a challenge to the SNP government’s 18-week referral to treatment target.

The Scottish Conservative told Department of Health minister Jackie Doyle-Price the Scottish Government “refuse” to adopt the four-week standard and 1 week for urgent cases for under-19s in England and Wales.

She said:

“I wrote to the Scottish Government to ask them why they refuse to equalise this target for our young people with no substantive reason.

“I have also asked to meet the mental health minister in Scotland and look forward to that response…

“The current 18-week target in Scotland simply has to be addressed…

“I want my constituents to have the same opportunity of early intervention as those south of the border and would like the Scottish Government to urgently address this needless inequality.”

Ms Hair credited proactivity at one of the schools in her constituency.

She said:

“I warmly welcome the approach taken within my old secondary school, Brechin High, where they have given a member of staff a lead on mental health within the school.

“It is linked up with the local primary schools so at the age when eating disorders may start to develop they are monitored.”

The role of social media was addressed, both in hearing stories of sufferers and their families, and in propagating dangerous material.

Ms Hair said:

“One comment on my social media campaign ahead of this debate said: ‘When anorexia arrives in a family it is like throwing a grenade into a home and watching it explode…caring for my daughter has impacted on the mental health of all those in my family’.”

Ms Hair acknowledged the destructive role of social media in promoting unhealthy body and health expectations.

Material promoting the habits behind eating disorders are also rife and often posted by sufferers themselves, she told MPs, adding:

“Social media is a platform for showcasing all the positive in our lives with no balancing of the many negatives we encounter each day.

“For someone with a mental health condition, this can only accentuate it. A force for good in so many ways but a stain on the life of so many families who recognise it as the tool which tore their families apart.

Companies cannot take all the positives of social media and refuse to take the responsibility for the damage it also causes.