Having kept a discreet distance from the mainstream world of eating disorders during my PTSD treatment, I was thrilled to get an email from author and fellow mum-of-a-recovered-eating-disorder-sufferer, Eva Musby (whose story features in my book When Anorexia Came To Visit) directing me to her latest blog post about some seriously excellent changes planned for adolescent eating disorders treatment in England.
I won't repeat Eva's post here. But basically plans are underway to cut the time that adolescent eating disorder sufferers have to wait for treatment in England. Plans are also underway to improve the quality of the treatment they receive, hopefully focusing more on evidence-based models rather than 'experimenting', as was the case with my (then) 15-year old son, Ben, and his treatment for anorexia.
I had no idea this was happening, so it's great news. Providing that it actually DOES go ahead.
In her post, Eva Musby states that: By 2020, children and young people with eating disorders will get treatment within a maximum of four weeks (for “routine” cases), and one week for “urgent” cases.
Compare that to our experience in 2009.
Back then, it took around four weeks to get our GP to refer our 15-year old son, Ben, for treatment for his fast-developing anorexia.
Once that referral was obtained and sent off, it took a further four weeks or so for us to get a reply only to discover that it could be a further 18-22 weeks before Ben began treatment.
Good grief, it took ME less time to access adult therapy for my recent PTSD - and that wasn't anywhere near as serious as Ben's anorexia.
That shocking and disgracefully long wait could have killed Ben.
Actually, it nearly did.
Because, as you will know if you've read my book Please eat... A mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia, his pulse rate plummeted to 29 beats per minute and he ended up wired up to machines in our local cardiac ward.
And, as this medical article extract says: Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a life-threatening condition, with a significant risk for death, due to cardiovascular complications. It is characterized by abnormal eating behavior and has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders. It has been associated with bradycardia (a heart rate [HR] of less than 60 beats per minute) (up to 95%), hypotension, mitral valve prolapse, and heart failure.
To have to hang around for MONTHS watching your child head towards possible death because they can't access treatment is something that no parent should have to go through.
In a bizarre way we were lucky that Ben DID have a heart scare because it accelerated his treatment. However even then it was some FOUR MONTHS on from when we first took him to the GP...
And, as you will know, those first few therapy sessions tend to be more about administration than actual treatment.
During which time your child can descend even further into this deadly illness.
As happened with us, and doubtless others, too.