There are many Good Things about my new book When Anorexia Came To Visit. The best thing of all is that these 20 wonderful families willingly volunteered to share their personal stories with other families they've never met in order to give them hope. But the other Good Thing is that I believe these 20 accounts represent an excellent cross-section of families from across the UK (looking primarily at restrictive anorexia nervosa).
We have families from all areas of the British Isles: England, Scotland and Wales - and all ages, from the age of around ten to the early twenties. We have families of boys as well as girls. Two of the accounts are about boys which kind of reflects what is going on in the statistical world in general.
We have families where the young person is now fully recovered - and families where it is still a "work in progress".
Not surprisingly, the former is usually where the family has received swift and effective evidence-based treatment and good parental / family support. The latter is usually where the family has received a less excellent level of care. Again, this reflects what seems to be going on across the UK and, doubtless, the world in general. Some treatment providers are outstanding whereas others aren't. Some are following the latest evidence-based treatment models whereas others are still following outdated or redundant approaches. In some cases it's difficult to work out what the approach actually is - as was the case with our own story, described in my book Please Eat.
We have families that live close to excellent specialist eating disorder treatment facilities while others are referred to more generalised services like CAMHS (Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services). Whether or not you have to wait for treatment varies, too, as does the length of time it can take before a GP diagnoses an eating disorder and refers the young person for treatment.
In some areas very little is available. In other areas, there appears to be nothing at all. So some families are being forced to go private. In the best case scenarios the NHS funds this private eating disorder treatment - or the family has adequate private health insurance to cover the enormously costly fees. In the worst case scenarios families are forking out tens of thousands of pounds (or more) of their own money to pay for treatment which, in a country with a National Health Service, should be available - free - to everyone.
All of the above is why this new book describes such a good cross-section of what is going on out there, in the UK, with eating disorders, in 2013, even though I have only talked to 20 families.
Not only does When Anorexia Came To Visit highlight what is happening in the world of eating disorders treatment in the UK, but - of course - it has been written to help other families: to help them identify the warning signs of eating disorders sooner and take action, and to empower them to demand the best possible care for their child and be included - as routine - as a vital part of the treatment team.