Community resources needed to provide support for people suffering from eating disorders

17 May 2022

Labour Senator and member of the Oireachtas Health subcommittee on mental health Annie Hoey has called on government to address the concerns raised by Bodywhys at today’s committee meeting.

Senator Hoey has written to social networking sites demanding more thorough and proactive interventions to protect people suffering from eating disorders from harmful content.

Senator Hoey said:

“The broader social impact of Covid will not be known for a long time, however we know that it has had a massive impact on people suffering from mental health issues and eating disorders in particular. Services are reporting a tsunami of referrals – during the first three months of 2021 there was a 66% increase of children with eating disorders being hospitalised. The surge during the pandemic has shone a light on how unfair and under-resourced State services are in the area of eating disorders.

“While of course there were barriers to care during lockdown, the reality is that treatment in this area has been lacking long before the pandemic hit our shores. The fact that there are only three public beds for those suffering from eating disorders is unthinkable when we know that there are approximately 180,000 people in Ireland suffering from eating disorders in this country.

“While we know the Minister has plans to address the crisis in the mental health system, the plans are not worth the piece of paper they are written on for those suffering. GPs and social workers continue to report that they can’t provide the integrated community-based supports that they need.

“Services continue to be provided on either a postcode lottery or, for those who can afford it, paying for private treatment either here in Ireland or the UK. This simply is not good enough.

“As well as the obvious and immediate changes that must be made to the delivery of care in the health service, I am firmly of the belief that private companies need to step up to the mark on this issue. Diet culture on social media is something that needs to be tackled. I have written to the large social media networks asking them to consider proactive interventions on their sites to provide information for eating disorders on posts connected with diet culture.”

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