Mental Health Bites

222% Eating Disorder sectioning increase

This week the Eating Disorder charity B-eat released a shocking statistic which shows that there has been a massive 222% rise in those with an Eating Disorder being treated under section. To be treated under section, or to be ‘sectioned’, as it is commonly referred to means that a patient is considered to be mentally unwell, and vulnerable enough to be admitted to hospital, detained there and / or to be treated -in line with The Mental Health Act (1983) – even if this is against their wishes.

For a person with an Eating Disorder the treatment regime enforced under a section may begin with supervised meal-times, but if this is unsuccessful then force feeding, via a nasogastric / NG tube (inserted via the nasal passage and then down into the stomach) or in extreme cases a gastronomy / Mic-Key peg (a feed tube which is inserted directly into the stomach) can be utilised. These last two methods of providing the patient with nutrition and calorific content can be highly traumatic, however for some individuals it could be the difference between life and death and can therefore be a necessity in some circumstances.

222This statistic uncovered in a study by Dr Richard Sly at the University of East Anglia highlights a growing concern in the care of those with Eating Disorders.  As funding in mental health services has decreased the treatment available at Eating Disorder services has also decreased, and the referral criteria has tightened up.  In the simplest of explanations this means that patients have to get sicker in order to be treated. It’s an awful reality, but it is true.  This statistic therefore is not strictly one of worsening cases of Eating Disorders, but more it is the result of treatment not being offered in a timely and appropriate manner – and thus patients getting sicker before they are able to access services.  This is an appalling truth since it has been known for many years that providing earlier treatment leads to a shorter duration of illness, better treatment outcomes and less long term related health issues.

You might remember that not that long ago that the Government pledged funding over the next 5 years to reduce the waiting times for children and adolescents with Eating Disorders – but the statistic mentioned here concerns adults with Eating Disorders, which surely demonstrates that we need to be doing more to improve care for them as well!

Are you shocked by this information? Got an opinion you want to share? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts, suggestions and / or experiences in the comments section!

5 thoughts on “222% Eating Disorder sectioning increase

  1. Mark Taylor

    This is a sad and shocking statistic. As a mental health practitioner of over 20 years working the majority of this with eating disorders in various settings, I have witnessed the worrying reduction in NHS resources and the inevitable tightening or referral criteria that this creates. It is about time that the powers that be recognise that investing in well trained teams that provide comprehensive early intervention will save a lot of trauma and literally give lives back. Let’s not forget the needs of family as well.

  2. Bulimia Help

    It’s sad to know that the rate of eating disorder cases has increased. This means a bigger challenge to eating disorder advocates to exert more effort to spread ED awareness.

  3. richard

    Being sectioned can be a traumatic experience all round. My brother was sectioned a couple of times – and that was for schizophrenia. Episodes came and went, and when he was not in a psychotic state, he felt betrayed by his family – the people he had trusted most. Psychotic phases were worse. Now transport this over to eating disorders… where these issues in the family can be major factors…
    But here’s another kind of experience. I had a client who was sectioned with anorexia, and there was good and bad news. On the good news, she was in a specialist unit with others who had various eating disorders and made new friends who understood her – which was a real boost. She came to the realisation that she had had enough of her eating issues and decided, almost in a moment, that that was it. And changed, On the other side, she told me how it was almost the norm to be self-harming, which she began to do too. (She is now in a good place mentally, and looking forward in life).
    What do others think of the pros and cons of sectioning, from the point of view of the patient?

    1. Kel Post author

      Great points and question Richard. I’ve seen both sides of the coin as well. A client going into hospital and the realisation of their critical state and need for change, sometimes a hospital stay is a positive changing point. Equally I have seen hospital be traumatising for those with certain history who find being kept in hospital a huge anxiety spiker which can be massively detrimental.
      Ultimately I hope to keep my clients out of hospital!
      Would love to hear other peoples thoughs.

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