My home city of Leeds is one of the first areas in England which is pioneering FBT (Family Based Therapy) as the primary model for treating adolescents with eating disorders in the city. It all goes back to Chancellor Of The Exchequer George Osborne's Autumn Statement in 2014 when he promised an extra £2 billion a year of additional funding for the NHS across various services including mental health. Leeds was one of the authorities that applied for funding and they were successful in their bid. So some of this funding is being used to roll out a new service for adolescents with eating disorders within the Leeds postcode area.
Hopefully, the new service will "go live" at some point this year, but I'm not sure when. Meanwhile Leeds is busy recruiting and training people, supported by Dr James Lock and his team at Stanford University in the States.
Leeds is adopting FBT because of its higher success rate when compared with other models of treatment for adolescent eating disorders. Central to this decision is the simple fact that Leeds wants to ensure that young people get diagnosed and treated quicker, and hopefully recover faster and with a more sustainable recovery, so they can get on with their lives.
So in line with this, hopefully the pathway into outpatient treatment (because FBT therapy for eating disorders as an outpatient-based treatment) will be simpler and quicker than it was for us. And, hopefully it will require fewer sessions overall. Plus, it will provide much more support for the family, especially when it comes to getting the young person to eat. Also, hopefully, the service will be much more specialised towards eating disorders as opposed to the multidisciplinary CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services).
Of course eating disorders are notoriously difficult to treat – and Leeds recognises that FBT might not be suitable for everyone. So other treatment models will still be available for these families.
We talked about a lot more, too, but I can't really repeat it here as it is still very much a "work in progress". The above is just an overall summary.
But all in all this is excellent news for adolescents with eating disorders in Leeds – and we're talking about anorexia-type eating disorders here, because I understand that eating disorders like bulimia aren't necessarily treated using the FBT model. It's also good news for England in general as, hopefully, other areas follow suit, although I have no information about whether or not other areas have plans to do this.