FREED service extends to Sefton to help more young people battling eating disorders

Mersey Care NHSFT has secured funding to extend the service across Sefton, to help even more young people and adults who are battling with eating disorders.

The implementation of FREED in Sefton will transform care for those with eating disorders, or emerging eating disorders, by enabling them to be seen earlier and through a stepped care approach, which aims to provide the most efficient and effective intervention first. The stepped care model will allow transition to a more specialist intervention, should it be required.

Run by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, one of the leading mental health and community health trusts in the country, the new service in Sefton begins today (6 June 2022) and is open to 16 to 25-year-olds in the area who have had an eating disorder for three years or less.

The ‘First Episode Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorders’ (FREED), is a flexible, evidence-based treatment approach. FREED’s focus on early intervention, makes it more effective at reversing the changes to the brain, body and behaviour caused by eating disorders.

“Studies suggest that the first three years of illness are crucial in treating eating disorders,” said Dr Charlotte Jewell, Clinical Psychologist and Sefton FREED Champion.

“Eating disorders tend to persist over time and the longer a young person is unwell, the more likely it is they experience significant issues so we’re really excited to have the opportunity to extend the FREED service to Sefton. We’re confident that early intervention will support good outcomes for young adults with eating disorders across Sefton, like it has in Liverpool.”

Eating disorders historically have the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder. One in seven women are likely to experience it over the course of their lifetime and peak onset is during adolescence and young adulthood. Nationally, we saw referrals increase following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and UK lockdowns.

Any patients wishing to use it can be referred via their GP through the main Eating Disorder Service, where the new service will be based.

Sefton FREED will also become part the national FREED network, which joins them up with other specialist eating disorder services using the model across the country.

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