In recognition of Eating Disorders Awareness Week (28 February-6 March 2022), Amy Semple, Programme Manager for the AHSN Network national Early Intervention Eating Disorders programme, spoke about the programme’s impact on young people so far and highlighted the work taking place in mental health trusts across England.
Eating disorders are a serious mental illness, predominantly affecting adolescents and young adults. Week in week out I hear positive stories about how FREED is helping young people get the rapid and personalised treatment and support they need for their eating disorders. To mark Eating Disorders Awareness Week the AHSN Network has showcased some of these patient stories alongside the work of our amazing FREED Champions, who are making such a difference to the lives of young people across the country.
Adolescence and emerging adulthood is a peak risk period for the onset of eating disorders as well as a key developmental phase where people acquire the skills, knowledge, and confidence to flourish in adult life. This period is therefore such an important time to intervene to ensure young people are not disadvantaged and able to study, work, socialise and live their life fully.
FREED is an innovative service for 16 to 25-year-olds who’ve had an eating disorder for three years or less, enabling rapid access to specialised treatment that gives special attention to challenges we know young people face during these years of their lives and in the early stages of an eating disorder.
In collaboration with South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) and Kings College London (KCL), we are working with 33 eating disorder services that have adopted FREED and are supporting implementation at a further 12 trusts who anticipate to launch their FREED service by Summer 2022.
Since the launch of FREED, more than 1,000 young people* have accessed evidence-based treatment much faster than usual.
As we continue to work with trusts and the wider health and care system, we hope to support the aim to ensure all young people across England have rapid access to treatment by 2023.
Stories from across England
I’m proud to see examples that the AHSNs have shared during this awareness week, including open letters from service users and the perspectives of FREED champions from across the country. Here are some highlights:
- An open letter – Read an open letter from someone who has been helped in their recovery, published by the East Midlands AHSN.
- Hear from a FREED Champion – from South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, published by the Health Innovation Network
- Read blogs from our AHSN people – Including Innovation Agency’s Heather Morrison on the aim to ‘end the postcode lottery’ for people with eating disorders and Charlotte Douglas and Sarah Houston, Innovation Advisors at Imperial College Health Partners who share their work in North West London.
- Listen to patients who have completed FREED sharing their experience – published by Kent Surrey Sussex AHSN
For more information on FREED visit the FREED website www.freedfromed.co.uk
If you have been affected by anything in this blog, please speak to your General Practitioner (GP) or speak confidentially to a BEAT Eating Disorders support worker by calling their Helpline 0808 801 0677.
*Figure updated 2 March 2022.