Our highly successful and innovative child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) eating disorder service has been running since 2001.
It is one of the largest CAMHS eating disorder services in the country, covering five north London boroughs: Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington.
The service aims to help young people with anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or atypical variations of these disorders to recover fully in the community. The service consistently achieves excellent clinical outcomes and satisfaction ratings from patients and their families and carers.
What are eating disorders?
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses which can affect people of all genders, backgrounds and ethnicities.
People with eating disorders may display behaviours such as: restricting food intake, bingeing (eating large quantities of food at once) or using unhealthy methods to get rid of food such as making themselves sick, using laxatives or doing excessive exercise.
This is because the illness has made it very important to them that they control their food, shape and weight. Although they may not be aware of it, these behaviours are often used to cope with difficult emotions or to help the person feel as if they are in control.
Who the service treats
The service primarily treats young people aged under 18 with the following eating disorders:
- anorexia nervosa
- bulimia nervosa
The service does not treat people with avoidant/restrictive feeding intake disorder.
The eating disorder service works collaboratively with families and carers to treat eating disorders in young people.
The service primarily uses the family therapy for anorexia nervosa/bulimia nervosa models. These are the treatment methods for eating disorders that are recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
When it is not possible to use family-based treatment, the service can offer other interventions recommended in the NICE guidelines, which are cognitive behavioural therapy for eating disorders and adolescent-focused therapy.
The service believe families and carers are the experts on their young person, and works collaboratively with them to treat the eating disorder using these family-based treatment models.
After an initial assessment with a clinician, the team will decide whether this is the right service to help the young person. If it is, the young person and their family members will have regular, supportive sessions with a clinician in order to support them with their recovery.
If appropriate, the young person and their family may be offered other help from the team, for example individual therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy or psychotherapy, additional family therapy, dietetic sessions, specialist nursing support, paediatric reviews, or psychiatric reviews and medication.
The majority of patients are treated by the outpatient team. There is also an eating disorder intensive service (EDIS) for patients who may be medically unstable or at risk of a hospital admission. The EDIS aims to treat all patients in the community, but sometimes hospital admissions may be necessary.
The team is multidisciplinary and consists of:
- family therapists
- specialist nurses
- clinical psychologists
- counselling psychologists
- assistant psychologists
- therapeutic care workers
During a patient’s treatment journey, they may have contact with one or more clinicians, depending on their individual needs.
Talk to your GP
Your GP may be the first person you talk to about how you are feeling.
They may refer you to the service if they feel this will help you or the person you are concerned about. If you have not got a GP, you can find one near you.
General health enquiries
For general health enquiries, dial 111. This is the NHS number to call for urgent non-emergency advice.
You can still contact your GP or local pharmacist for care advice. The NHS 111 service does not replace the emergency 999 service.
The service welcomes referrals in writing from GPs, paediatricians, psychiatrists and other CAMHS professionals for children and adolescents (aged under 18) with GPs in Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington.
The following information is useful to provide to help the service prioritise referrals:
- current height and weight
- rate of any weight loss, eg 3kg in three weeks
- current estimated food/calorie intake and fluid intake
- any other physical or mental health concerns
- telephone numbers (to enable the team to triage and arrange urgent appointments)
Referrers do not need to organise blood tests or any other investigations in advance, especially where young people may be rapidly losing weight.
If you are a young person or parent and would like to be seen in our service, please ask to be referred by one of the professionals noted above. Please note the service does not accept self-referrals.
If you are a professional and potential referrer, the team is always happy to discuss possible referrals in advance. If you are unable to call, please bear in mind that whenever there is doubt, please refer.
Please always call the service if you are concerned about possible emergencies, especially where young people may be at risk of significant harm or are having eating difficulties associated with rapid and significant weight loss.
Following receipt of written referrals, the team will contact the referrer to inform them of the outcome. If the referral is accepted, the waiting time for an assessment varies depending on demand.
- BEAT: Beat is a UK-based charity providing extensive information about eating disorders, as well as blogs written by people who have an eating disorder, those who have recovered and carers.
- Eva Musby: Eva Musby is the mother of a young woman who has recovered from anorexia nervosa. She provides practical and emotional support for parents with a child who has an eating disorder, based upon her own experiences of caring for her daughter.
- F.E.A.S.T (Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders): this organisation provides information about eating disorders and support.
- MaleVoicED: this organisation provides information and support specific to males with eating disorders.
- NHS: this is the NHS website with information on eating disorders.
At the initial assessment, the young person and their family will meet with two of the team to talk about food and eating, and other aspects of their life, including strengths and difficulties, and to do a physical health check.
At the end of the initial assessment, the team will talk to the family and young person about whether this is the right service to help them. If it is, then treatment will start then. If not, advice will be given about other services who can help.
Treatment usually involves regular, supportive sessions for the family and young person with a clinician to support them with their recovery, using family-based treatment.
If appropriate, the young person and their family may be offered individual therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy or psychotherapy, or the family may be offered additional family therapy support.
The service also offers dietetic support and physical health monitoring where appropriate.
Some young people may benefit from short-term psychiatric medication to help them with their recovery, or from psychiatric reviews to support their mental health.