What is FREED?

FREED is designed to give young people rapid access to specialised evidence-based treatment and support tailored to their needs.

Eating disorders aren’t just about food

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FREED is First Episode Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorders. It is a service for 16 to 25-year-olds who have had an eating disorder for three years or less.

Young people getting help for their eating disorder through FREED are given rapid access to specialised treatment which gives special attention to challenges we know young people face during these years of their life, and in the early stages of an eating disorder.

FREED is a flexible evidence-based treatment approach focused on early intervention; making it much more effective than traditional treatments at reversing the changes to brain, body and behaviour caused by eating disorders.

The FREED service was developed and tested by the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust Foundation’s Eating Disorders Unit and King’s College London. When FREED was compared with “business as usual”, FREED reduced the amount of time an eating disorder was left untreated. FREED patients waited less time for assessment and treatment and had better treatment outcomes. Most made a full recovery from their eating disorder within one year. Using the FREED service was a positive experience for patients, carers and staff.

FREED confirmed that treating people as early as possible leads to better results for eating disorder treatment.

In 2016, FREED was introduced to three new eating disorder services in the UK. In 2018, FREED is being introduced to eight new services. By 2020, we hope that at least 20 services will be using FREED. Work is also being done to establish FREED in Australia.

People sometimes ask why FREED is only for those aged 16 to 25 with an eating disorder of up to three years. If someone has only been unwell for a short time treatment seems to work better. This is most true during adolescence and young adulthood. People with eating disorders also experience changes to their brain, body and behaviour. In the first three years of illness these changes are more easily reversed.

Eventually, we hope that everyone with an eating disorder will be able to access tailored, specialist treatment quickly. FREED is one step towards this goal.

“If it wasn’t for FREED’s rapid intervention, I would not have been well enough to pursue my dream of going to university. It makes me emotional to think how much my life has changed in one year of treatment. The steps have been small, but each step has brought me closer to, as well as made me feel I am worth, recovery.”

FREED service user

The FREED team

Karina Allen

Senior Clinical Psychologist and FREED Network Lead (Maudsley)

Amelia Austin

Research Assistant (Kings College London)

Amy Brown

Senior Clinical Psychologist and FREED Implementation Lead (Maudsley)

Danielle Glennon

Clinical Specialist Service Lead and FREED Service Lead (Maudsley)

Nina Grant

Clinical Psychologist and FREED Champion (Maudsley)

Vicki Mountford

Principal Clinical Psychologist and FREED Supervisor (Maudsley)

Ulrike Schmidt

Professor of Eating Disorders, Consultant Psychiatrist and FREED Evaluation Lead (Kings College London)

Mary Franklin-Smith

FREED Creative Lead (Maudsley) and FREED Service Lead (Leeds)

William Rhys Jones

Consultant Psychiatrist (Leeds)

Karen Williams

Clinical Nurse Specialist and FREED Champion (Leeds)

Gabrielle Brady

FREED therapy lead (Vincent Square)

Alice Coddington

Consultant Psychiatrist (Vincent Square)

Frances Connan

Consultant Psychiatrist (Vincent Square)

Kudi Kali

Lead Nurse (Vincent Square)

Nicole Nunnes

Clinical Nurse Specialist and FREED Champion (Vincent Square)

Alison Hemphill

Clinical Pathway Lead (Birmingham)

Sheryllin McNeil

Psychological Therapies Lead and FREED lead (Birmingham)

Patricia Tulloch

Clinical Team Manager (Birmingham)

Sam Clark-Stone

Lead Clinician (Gloucestershire)

Sanni Norweg

Principal Clinical Psychologist (Bristol)

Rosie Oldham-Cooper

Clinical Psychologist and FREED Champion (Bristol)

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