Helen Malson and Hugh Herzig, Directors of the Eating Disorders Health Integration Team (EDHIT), reflect on the team’s work and achievements over the last year.
Eating disorders (EDs) are a range of conditions that significantly impact upon people’s physical, psychological and social wellbeing. They have some of the highest levels of morbidity and mortality associated with any mental health problem.
Eating disorders mainly affect girls and young women but they can affect people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. They can affect people for years and are associated with substantial health and social care costs as well as devastating people’s lives.
The aims of the Eating Disorders Health Integration Team (EDHIT) are to improve the care pathways for people with eating disorders by bringing together clinicians, academics and people with lived experience of eating disorders for networking, dialogue and research. In particular we aim to:
- Enhance some of the many transitions between services that patients will experience such as transitions from:
- Child and adolescent mental health services to adult services
- Primary to secondary to tertiary care services
- Medical and psychiatric services
- Across regions such as home to university city services for students
- Improve support for people with eating disorders coming out of intensive treatments such as hospital, or being discharged from specialist services
- Improve patients’ primary care experiences and support GPs in helping their patients who have eating disorders
- Keep a strong patient and public involvement focus throughout our activities, to bridge the potential gaps between service users’, carers’ and providers’ perspectives
Since becoming an approved Health Integration Team in March 2016 we have hosted several research events and open evenings.
We held a very successful launch event at the Arnolfini in October. It was attended by more than 50 people, including patients and ex-patients, members of the public, academics, students and health care professionals, including the chair of Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Trust. The event had a strong patient and public involvement theme, with an exhibition of artwork produced by patients and a keynote talk by the artist and author Katie Green.
We have also been publicising EDHIT’s work in the local media and at academic and clinical conferences both here and abroad.
In our first year we have already launched several projects. These include:
- Two projects funded by Bristol and Gloucester Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and South Gloucestershire Public Health, to deliver and evaluate an eating disorders prevention intervention in local schools called Body Project
- A project funded by the University of the West of England to develop, deliver and evaluate a new school-based intervention that challenges restrictive gender norms with the aim of decreasing eating disorders and improving health and wellbeing in young people
- A project funded by Bristol CCG to identify how we can best improve primary care for children and young people with eating disorders
It has been a busy year but there is still much to achieve!