Today I read an article in the Daily Telegraph about yet another 18+ teenager with an eating disorder that has been failed by our current system of allowing 18+ young people with serious eating disorders to make their own decisions about whether or not they have eating disorder treatment. Worse, this young woman was discharged because "at 18 she was deemed to be old enough to care for herself". Having reach that magic age of 18, she discharged herself. Within months she was dead.
Other less seriously sick young people are being discharged from eating disorder treatment when they read the magic age of 18 because their recovery level is considered to be "good enough". If you remember, we were told by our pscyh that she was happy to settle for "good enough" if my son was happy.
Some, I suspect, have built up good relationships with an effective treatment team only to be cut loose to drift in the big scary wide ocean of Adult Services when they reach the magic age.
Or, like a young woman I heard about the other day, they are waiting for their 18th birthday with great anticipation because they plan to halt the treatment their loving and terrified parents have fought so hard to get for them.
During the UK parliamentary discussion last Thursday this subject was brought up. I know there is at least one MP who is convinced that young people suffering from severe eating disorders should not be permitted to make their own decisions once they reach 18. Purely and simply because the eating disordered mind makes them unable to do this. We are talking about a serious mental illness after all. And not only this but the most deadly of all mental illnesses.
As has been proven by the above article in the Telegraph.
I know there are lots of parents of young people out there... young people who are about to reach 18, or who have already reached 18, or who are in their twenties or older... who would give their back teeth to have some clout when it comes to whether or not their child needs - and gets- treatment for their eating disorder.
There must be something we can do together. The Act says that Once an individual has reached the age of 18, no one can give consent on their behalf. If they are not competent, clinicians can provide treatment and care, providing this is in their best interests.
All too often this needs to go through the courts which, when someone is seriously ill, can be too late.
But whey the hell should such a dramatic and radical change to a mentally ill child's rights take place the moment the clock strikes midnight on their 18th birthday?