• Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

Eating Disorders Service to create a male-only support group

ByJulie J. Helfer

May 17, 2022

One in 10 people who contact Bodywhys for help is a man or a man’s loved one with an eating disorder.

To meet this growing male demand, a male-only support group is to be set up next month by Bodywhys, Ireland’s eating disorders association.

However, demand for his services has increased across all demographics since the pandemic.

In 2019, Bodywhys supported some 4,100 people. This figure has risen to 9,000.

Body image concerns are rising among both men and women, with tweens now developing body image issues, Jacinta Hastings, CEO of Bodywhys, told the Oireachtas Mental Health Committee.

Eating disorders now have the highest death rate of any mental illness, she said.

The Department of Health estimates that up to 1,800 new cases of eating disorders occur in Ireland each year, she said.

However, international research indicates that only 5-15% of people with eating disorders seek help.

The average age of onset of an eating disorder is 15 years.

Where specialist eating disorder teams are in place, patient outcomes are good, Ms Hastings said, but there are funding shortfalls and unequal access to services.

She called for semi-annual funding to allow for better planning of services. She also called for a review of the funding model and model of care, and the creation of an eating disorder registry to form a national database.

Sinn Féin mental health spokesman Mark Ward questioned the government’s logic of spending €420,000 a year on Bodywhys, which equates to just €46 per customer seeking help, so that he spent €460,000 on a weight loss TV show. Operation Transformation.

He also said many families contacted him saying they were struggling to get their children into inpatient eating disorder wards. When admitted in critical condition with a dangerously low body mass index, they are then treated but discharged without adequate support, so they again need emergency hospital care.

There are currently only three public adult beds for inpatient eating disorder treatment, all at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.

Ms Hastings said the plan was to increase that capacity to 26 public eating disorder beds, but she had no timeline for that goal.

She said more plentiful beds in the private sector are sometimes used by the HSE for patients with public eating disorders.

Since the pandemic, Bodywhys has seen a significant increase in demand for services, but the full impact of the Covid crisis on eating disorders is not yet known, Ms Hastings said.

‘The Perfect Storm’

The pandemic and its aftermath have been “the perfect storm” for eating disorders, said Kathy Downes, support services manager at Bodywhys, with people stuck at home with no access to services.

Harriet Parsons, head of training and development at Bodywhys, said anxious and possibly high achievers with perfectionist tendencies may have slipped into an eating disorder when they had no standards to follow. to measure up to when they were locked up at home. Exercise and food control may have become obsessive.

Ms Parsons said research shows that treating eating disorders in the community leads to the best patient outcomes. That’s why the focus has been on community teams trained to deal with eating disorders, she said.

Some progress has been made to address the issue, she said. Specialized training is provided to thousands of healthcare professionals across the country so that physicians are better equipped to deal with the complexities of an eating disorder.

A new program is also set up from Maudsley Hospital in London so that patients from the age of 18 are followed and supported by clinicians throughout their treatment of eating disorders, whether in hospital or in the community, to ensure continuity of care. .

She said people with eating disorders use disordered eating behaviors to manage their emotions, but with the right support they can fully recover.

  • Call the National Bodywhys Helpline on 01-2107906 or email [email protected]
  • If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please click here for a list of support services.