The Mental Health Action Plan is positive news.
EDA (N.I.) welcomes the recent announcement by Minister Robin Swann of the new Mental Health Action Plan, which according to the Minister, will provide ' a common focus and direction for the development of mental health services'. It is very encouraging to see importance being afforded to mental health and wellbeing.
EDA are extremely pleased to see as part of that plan, a commitment to the development of specialist eating disorder services. Eating disorder services have been severely underfunded and underdeveloped and have been for a considerable length of time, leaving people unable to access the support that they need and deserve.
In March 2020, EDA launched their Manifesto ' Call For Action - Eating Disorders Do Not Wait' calling for urgent action from the Department of Health to adequately fund these specialist services. This call came in light of them witnessing an increasing number of individuals contacting their service for support, individuals who were greatly struggling in their lives, but who were unable to access statutory specialist support and whom EDA were now their primary source of support.
EDA's Manifesto sets out clearly steps that need to be taken to improve eating disorder services, including early intervention care, intensive treatment programmes, family support services and greater understanding both in the medical community and general public of what eating disorders are and how the conditions can be effectively treated. EDA hopes that these crucial points will be carefully considered in the coming months and beyond as the new Mental Health Action Plan and the strategy begins to be implemented. Trust based services are stretched and under crippling pressure. The demand for our own services had already risen steeply pre-COVID-19 as we tried to plug the gap in the health service. COVID-19 is bringing unique challenges to people affected by eating disorders and their families, something we are witnessing on a daily basis. The demand for our online support platform, which we expanded in response to COVID-19, is testament to how much people are really struggling right now. While our numbers were already rising steeply pre-COVID-19, we are expecting to see an even greater number of people contacting our service for support in the aftermath of this pandemic. The publication therefore of a Mental Health Action Plan is greatly welcomed. This now needs to be put into action with sufficient investment so as people who are greatly struggling in their lives can access the support that they need and deserve as and when they need it. Eating disorders do not wait.
The Mental Health Actin Plan can be viewed here