West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN) launches new healthcare programme to help tackle eating disorders in the Black Country.
The model has been developed by South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London and will be rolled out by WMAHSN to help support young people that are living with eating disorders in the West Midlands.
Eating disorders are a serious mental illness that involve unhealthy attitudes towards food, which often take over an individual’s life and cause serious illness. One in seven women will experience an eating disorder over their lifetime and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder. 
Peak onset is during early adulthood, when the brain is still developing and evidence suggests that treatment is more effective if used at the earliest opportunity, within the first three years of illness.
WMAHSN is aiming to improve outcomes for patients in the region by adopting and spreading existing models that are known to work. One of the approaches is FREED (First episode Rapid Early intervention for Eating Disorders), an evidence-based specialist care package for 16 to 25-year-olds who have had an initial eating disorder episode lasting less than three years.
Along with the FREED programme, WMAHSN is continuing to identify other solutions to help with four key outcomes: earlier intervention and treatment of eating disorders in young people, reducing the time young people are spending with untreated eating disorders, reducing waiting times for day/in-patient admissions and saving costs by reducing the need for some healthcare services, in particular in-patient admissions.
Aiming to reduce waiting times, improve uptake and get 60% of patients to a healthy weight within 12 months, WMAHSN will begin work by evaluating the six Mental Health Trusts and 11 Eating Disorder sites in the West Midlands, identifying which models are being used.
Dr. Sheryllin McNeil, Clinical Psychologist and eating disorder clinical lead at WMAHSN, said: “It has been great to work closely with teams as they work to redesign local pathways. We recognise the challenges of doing so in a post COVID-19 world but are encouraged by the enthusiasm and progressive thinking existent within the team as well as their continued passion for early intervention.
“We will endeavour to work closely with teams as they develop and continue to support them to find innovative solutions to challenges they may face in order to ensure they are able to deliver FREED and build on/enhance their local service offer for young people and families with an eating disorder.”
For further information, please visit https://freedfromed.co.uk/
Image of Forge Mill Lake, Sandwell By Jeremy Bolwell, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14326695