Please feel free to adapt this to send to your local MP! (the wording for paragraph 2 is taken from of this report, as are some other facts and figures). Here goes...
Dear Fabian Hamilton
Last Thursday a three-hour debate took place in Westminster about eating disorders led by MPs Caroline Nokes, David Burrowes, Tessa Munt and Mary Glindon.
A huge point raised in the debate was whether the current Children’s Act should be reconsidered. As things stand a 16-year-old with anorexia is deemed capable of making their own decisions leaving distraught parents with no control unless the patient is eventually sectioned under the Mental Health Act, which then has implications for the rest of their life.
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses; indeed they have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. 20% of sufferers die as a result of the illness and 40% never truly recover.
As a parent of a teenage boy who has now recovered from anorexia nervosa, and also a member of FEAST (a global charity for supporting parents of young people with eating disorders) I know just how much a sufferer’s mind can go completely off the rails making them incapable of making rational decisions.
The thing with anorexia is that it makes the sufferer unable to "want" help. Indeed they tend to "want" the reverse... for parents and professionals to "back off" and leave them alone... which is why – when they reach the age of 16 or 18 – some sadly discharge themselves from treatment, all too often with devastating results.
Only this week the Telegraph printed an article about one such case – an 18 year old girl that discharged herself and subsequently died. (+ link )
This is far from being a unique case.
Not only this, but loving parents who have actively and successfully been involved in their child’s treatment suddenly have no say in the matter once their child reaches 16 or 18. Professionals aren’t permitted to talk to them if their child refuses permission which, all too often, is the case. This, in a world, where evidence suggests that Family Based Treatment (i.e. treatment that involves parents in their child’s recovery) is the most successful treatment of all. (+ link )
On a personal level, I know of several parents who are having to watch, powerless, as their 16+ child deteriorates yet refuses essential and potentially life-saving treatment.
It shouldn’t be happening, but it is.
I am writing to you because I would like you to actively support the campaign which is being led by the above MPs and specifically to support a change to the Children’s Act as outlined above.
This is a cross-party issue because, after all, we’re talking about young lives which are at stake.
In the meantime here is a link to my regular blog about eating disorders which discusses this issue: (+ link to my blog)
If you would like me to come and meet you to discuss the above in more detail I would be delighted.