This month’s budget announcement contained some interesting news for me, and for anybody who has or has had an Eating Disorder in this country.
After years of what can only be described as a poor and unacceptable standard of ‘care’ for people with Eating Disorders, (despite it still having the highest kill rate of all mental illnesses, as it did 10 years ago when I was poorly) the government is finally stepping up and investing money which will hopefully make a difference to a lot of people’s lives. It’s much-welcomed and much needed support granted to those in need when the country and NHS as a whole is already being squeezed; but I’m so glad that it the need has been identified and now recognised.
£150 million sounds like a substantial of money to you or me, but to the NHS it’s still probably not enough to tackle the issue and now those responsible for spending the money will be collating evidence and looking at how best the money is spent.
I know from a personal perspective since I received next to no support, and the little care I did receive was shockingly bad, that the first steps have to begin at the very start of an Eating Disorder, when sufferers are being turned away from their GP continually for various reasons, sadly some of which include not being taken seriously, some of which involve few resources and centres open for GPs to refer people to, and even then, waiting times are unacceptably long for an illness which we know can rapidly deteriorate over a very short period time if left.
This means that, like me, many are only admitted to hospital when they are physically very ill, at a very late stage where you really are walking the line between life and death. Not only that, but that person’s mental state is incredibly poor. Not being taken seriously by healthcare professionals only serves to compact negative thoughts about yourself and that will also make therapy more complex.
Therefore I’m hoping that we will hear about money going into a fast referral system, more specialist hospital places for those with Eating Disorders, but additionally increased awareness for healthcare professionals. I suffered stigma from those who were supposed to be helping me; borne out of ignorance of mental health and a lack of understanding of Eating Disorders. If this can be tackled, along with the more serious urgency needed when treating Eating Disorders, I believe a difference, however small, really can be made. A little care and kindness goes a long, long way.
What do you think? I’m keen to hear your thoughts on this.