• Gillian

What Is 'Thin Enough'?

Updated: Mar 11, 2018

This month, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published their ‘Are We Listening ’ report, which says that too many children and young people are unable to receive help for mental health problems until they reach ‘crisis point’.


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This is a topic which is very close to my heart, as 6 years ago, my 16-year-old daughter was unable to access the help she needed until her body weight had dropped by half and her heart almost stopped. Despite fighting for help earlier, it was only when the cardiac team had to be called in the middle of the night that her illness was taken seriously.

I have since worked with many people who are struggling with eating disorders and the story is all too familiar—they are not 'ill enough’ or ‘thin enough’ to access treatment via the NHS. The irony is that eating disorders often develop from low self-worth! Giving such a damaging message, which is effectively saying that sufferers aren’t ‘doing their eating disorder well enough’, is unacceptable.


While the system may think it is saving resources, it is flawed and counter-productive in the long-term. Untreated mental illnesses such as eating disorders can lead to a lifetime of health problems for the individual, meaning it is ultimately not cost-effective for the NHS.


It is vital to listen to the voices of young people. Mental health should be at the centre of their lives and I believe we should be supporting resilience by providing quality time and access to trained counsellors in schools. Early recognition and treatment are the best ways to avoid long-term mental illness and associated major or-life threatening health problems. This is where our investment should be.


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