Let’s Talk About It: Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2023

Let’s Talk About It: Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2023

Let’s talk about it: Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2023
Organised by the charity BEAT, National Eating Disorder Awareness Week highlighted the realities of living with an eating disorder. This year it took place on the 27th February – 5th March 2023.

Approximately 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder. Throughout the week, we shared information and tips to support parents and carers on the many eating disorders affecting children and young people’s mental health.

What is an eating disorder?

Children’s mental health has never been so critical, this week offered a vital opportunity to reflect on how we can support young people.

Last year, NHS Digital found 12.9% of 11 to 16 year olds and 60.3% of 17 to 19 year olds had possible eating problems but what is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is a mental health condition where you use the control of food to cope with feelings and other situations. Unhealthy eating behaviours may include eating too much or too little or worrying about your weight or body shape.

Anyone can get an eating disorder, but teenagers between 13 and 17 are mostly affected. Are you supporting a child with an eating disorder or need support yourself? Watch the videos below to see four ways you can support a child or young person with an eating disorder.

As part of the Mind of the Matter series, Professor Ulrike Schmidt from King’s College London, discussed how eating disorders have manifested in groups of people over the pandemic, exposed health inequalities and a disparity in access to treatment – you can find the full video below.

With treatment, most people can recover from an eating disorder. Cassius, an ex-service user, shared his story of recovery adding that “Recovery is more than possible. It happened, and it’s made me who I am today.”

What are the different types of eating disorders?

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia can cause severe physical problems because of the effects of starvation on the body. If you’re worried about a child or young person’s eating habits, weight or shape – the best way forward is to get help and support early.


Binge Eating Disorder (BED)

There are a number of ways that binge eating disorder can impact a young person’s life. Often (though not always) it can cause weight gain, and in terms of physical health, can be associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.



There are several reasons that someone might develop bulimia, and many factors that can contribute but know that just being there for them can also play a crucial role in helping them to get better. If you’re worried about someone you know, even if only some of the signs are present, you should still seek help immediately, as this gives the best chance of recovery.

What is EDIFY?

EDIFY (Eating Disorders: Delineating Illness and Recovery Trajectories to Inform Personalised Prevention and Early Intervention in Young People) is a four year project, led by researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s which aims to revolutionise how eating disorders are perceived, prevented and treated in young people.

By combining the arts and science, researchers will build a detailed picture of why young people develop eating disorders, how they progress over time and what we can do to help.

The EDIFY project, involving over 1000 participants, ensures young people with lived experience of eating disorders are at the heart of the project, serving as advisors and co-producers throughout.

Through this work we will expand professional and public perceptions of eating disorders, share under-represented voices and encourage advances in policy and clinical practice.

In their PaperMate series, the EDIFY team speak to eating disorders researchers about recent projects, such as the experiences of men and the impact of COVID.

What is FREED?

FREED is the First episode Rapid Early intervention for Eating Disorders 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.

Originally developed at South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and King’s IoPPN, the Health Innovation Network and Academic Health Science Network have since supported Mental Health Trusts across the country to adopt FREED. More than 2,000 young people nationally have benefitted from the service since 2020, with an initial evaluation suggesting FREED can reduce waiting times by 32% for assessment and 41% for treatment

Most recently, in her BBC documentary Zara McDermott: Disordered Eating, Zara met with our experts and service users at FREED to explore disordered eating. Filming took place at Maudsley Hospital in Summer 2022.

The new FREED-Mobile study, which is now recruiting, is exploring whether online resources could help young people in their decision to seek support for eating difficulties to help facilitate early intervention.

We want to encourage everyone who thinks they may have an eating disorder to seek help, as it is possible to get better. Wherever someone may be on their journey, there is hope and help out there.  Thank you to Zara for coming to visit us and spending time with people who have used our services.

Giulia Di Clemente and Charmaine Kilonzo

Senior Psychologist and Psychology Practitioner, Eating Disorders Service

External Support:

Beat – Eating Disorders: https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/


Kooth: https://www.kooth.com/


First Steps: https://firststepsed.co.uk/



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New Executive Dean of the IoPPN

New Executive Dean of the IoPPN

New Executive Dean of the IoPPN

Professor Matthew Hotopf CBE has been appointed as Executive Dean of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) from 1 September 2023.

a young girl holding a leaf

Professor Hotopf is a Professor of General Hospital Psychiatry, a consultant liaison psychiatrist, and Director of The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

As an alumnus of King’s College London, Professor Hotopf has a rich history with the university as a student and a valued member of staff. Matthew joined King’s as a Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at Guy’s King’s and St Thomas’ School of Medicine in 1998, establishing an eminent career which includes roles within King’s Health Partners (KHP) and at the IoPPN. He has held his current role of Vice Dean of Research at the IoPPN, since 2017 and led the IoPPN’s return to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

“Matthew has demonstrated outstanding leadership and successful delivery of critical projects for King’s, such as REF2021 for the IoPPN and the Directorship and renewal of the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre. He is an exemplar at managing complex partnerships across research, healthcare services, policy, industry, funding and clinical care. Matthew is a great motivator, encouraging both staff and students to fulfil their potential. I am looking forward to Matthew leading the IoPPN into its next chapter.” – Professor Shitij Kapur, President & Principal of King’s College London.

David Bradley, Chief Executive of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said:  “I am delighted that Professor Matthew Hotopf, CBE, has been appointed as Executive Dean of IoPPN. Matthew is bringing a wealth of experience across research, leadership, and educational skills. I know his experience will help us improve our services at South London and Maudsley and his leadership at IoPPN will make a hugely positive contribution to our work.” 

Matthew trained in epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and in Psychiatry at the Maudsley. He has broad research interests including using epidemiological and novel mobile health methods to interrogate the relationship between mental and physical health. He has a national research profile as a member of the REF and inaugural chair of the NIHR’s Translational Research Collaboration in Mental Health.

“It is a huge honour to be appointed as Executive Dean of IoPPN. There are many great opportunities ahead for us to advance neuroscience and mental health, and inspire the next generation through our education, training and research.” – Professor Matthew Hotopf CBE, Vice Dean of Research, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN)

Matthew’s awards include a CBE for services to Psychiatric Research in June 2018 and the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine’s 2016 Wayne Katon Research Award. He is also a NIHR Senior Investigator and Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

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We need more than ambulances to help kids’ mental health in the UK

We need more than ambulances to help kids’ mental health in the UK

We need more than ambulances to help kids’ mental health in the UK

Children’s mental heath has never been so critical, in the next five years, 1.5 million childlren will need new support with their mental health.

a young girl holding a leaf

Our Interim Partnership Director, Professor Emily Simonoff, discusses how clinicians and academics will work together to deliver effective, timely and inclusive mental health care for those who need it most in the new Pears Maudsley Centre when it opens in 2024.

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Is ADHD being over-diagnosed?

Is ADHD being over-diagnosed?

Is ADHD being over-diagnosed?

In conversation with Sarah Montague on BBCRadio4 World at One, Professor Emily Simonoff and Professor Dinesh Bhugra explain that although ADHD is more common in adults than we previously thought, it must be diagnosed by a professional with expertise in adult ADHD.

a young girl holding a leaf

Professor Simonoff, Director of the King’s Maudsley Partnership, said: “It may be helpful for some people to complete online screening questionnaires to help them determine if some of the things they’re experiencing might be related to ADHD, but the next step would be to get a professional opinion.”

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Maudsley Hospital: Celebrating 100 years

Maudsley Hospital: Celebrating 100 years

Celebrating 100 years

This month the South London and Maudsley are celebrating Maudsley Hospital which opened to the public 100 years ago today.

a young girl holding a leaf

The hospital had first been requisitioned by the War Office before its completion in 1915 to deal with the military casualties of the First World War. Their organisation has changed in many ways over the last century, but thanks to their staff and partners, Henry Maudsley’s vision, of a hospital in an urban centre where mental healthcare, teaching and research would come together, endures.

A vision we intend to continue and develop when the Pears Maudsley Centre for Children and Young People opens next year.

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Where to get help in a mental health crisis

Where to get help in a mental health crisis

Where to get help in a mental health crisis

For some people, Christmas can be a joyous occasion but for many, the festive period can welcome unwanted feelings of stress and discomfort, which in turn can have a detrimental effect on mental health.

Members of the South London and Maudsley CAMHS team

Many situations could trigger a mental health crisis in any young person. Around this time of year, it can range from a change in routine, loneliness, overwhelming amounts of pressure, a recent bereavement, and other scenarios.

A mental health crisis means different things to different people. You may feel your child’s mental health has been getting worse over time or that something has happened to make them feel this way. Young people that struggle with their mental health often have more difficulty and react differently to triggering situations.

In these circumstances, there are times when you need urgent suppor1t. It can be overwhelming, and you may feel unable to cope. No matter what your situation is, we are here to help.

How do I know if my child is having a mental health crisis?

There are several signs your child may be experiencing a mental health crisis, these can include:

  • They might want to hurt themselves, or someone else
  • They might hear voices
  • They might see things that are not real
  • They might think people are watching them or trying to hurt them
  • Making threats to others or themselves
  • Feeling low
  • Suffering from intrusive thoughts

This list above contains many but not all of the possible signs that your child may be experiencing a crisis. It is best to follow your instincts. If you feel your child is behaving much differently than normal and the situation seems like it is getting out of control, then your child is most likely experiencing a crisis.

What do I do if I suspect my child is having a mental health crisis?

Once you have identified that your child could be having a mental health crisis, you may want to consider the following questions:

  1. Do you feel your child is in immediate danger to themselves or others?
  2. Can you handle the situation yourself or do you need help?
  3. If you need help- what type of help do you need and from who?

If the answer to question one is yes, then please call for help immediately. We can offer telephone advice, support, or crisis counselling for young people concerned about a deterioration in their mental health. We also support parents and carers who are concerned about a young person.

  • For South London and Maudsley CAMHS support, out-of-hours call the Crisis line on 020 3228 5980.
  • Monday to Friday from 5 pm to 11 pm
  • Weekends and Bank Holidays from 9 am to 11 pm

Opening Times over the Christmas holidays are 9 am to 11 pm on the following days:

  • 24th December (Christmas Eve)
  • 25th December (Christmas Day)
  • 26th December (Boxing Day)
  • 27th December
  • 31st December (New Years’ Eve)
  • 1st January (New Years’ Day)

Who do I call when the CAMHS Crisis Line is closed?

The 24hr Mental Health Crisis Line supports children and young people when the CAMHS Crisis Line is closed:

  • Lewisham, Lambeth, Croydon, and Southwark call South London and Maudsley services on 0800 731 2864
  • Kingston, Merton, Richmond, Sutton, and Wandsworth call South West London and St George’ services on 0800 028 8000
  • Greenwich, Bexley, and Bromley call Oxleas services on 0800 330 8590

What do I do if I am unable to keep people safe?

If you are with someone who has attempted suicide, call 999 and stay with them until the ambulance arrives.

What if I’m unsure whether my child needs help?

If you are not sure, it could help to have a conversation with the young person you’re concerned about. We understand that having this conversation with your child is not an easy thing to do. It can be terrifying and overwhelming. Here are some steps and tips below to help you start the conversation.

  1. Tell your child what you have observed that is worrying you
  2. Let them know you are here for them, and you want to help
  3. Ask them as calmly and directly to explain how they’re feeling – just listen
  4. If they are not willing to talk, please do not force them
  5. Do not leave them alone if you feel they are at immediate risk
  6. If your child is not in immediate danger, you should still seek assistance

For the CAMHS crisis line, call 020 3228 5980 during the hours above, or call 111 www.111.nhs.uk

How can I calm the situation down?

If your child has a safety plan, follow any planned strategies you have in place. If you do not yet have a safety plan, try any strategies you feel may be effective in this situation. The intensity of the situation can cause us to project our fears or opinions so do your best to stay calm.

Keep in mind that, your child may be frightened by the feelings they are experiencing. Symptoms such as suspiciousness or distorted thinking can cause your child to be fearful and not trust other people – even you.

You may also want to consider some of the following tips to help de-escalate the situation:

  • Try to not raise your voice or talk too fast
  • Try not to challenge your child even if what they are saying seems unreasonable to you
  • Try to use positive words or phrases
  • Stay with your child but try not to restrict their movement
  • Listen actively and try to give positive support and reassurance
  • Ask simple questions and repeat them if necessary
  • Try not to take your child’s actions or comments personally
  • Don’t handle the crisis alone if you have people who can support you
  • Try to remove all sharp and dangerous objects from your child’s room and the home that might be thrown during a rage or used to harm themselves
  • If you care for more than one child, it could be beneficial to have a plan and a safe place for other children to go when a crisis occurs, if available to you

If you’re worried about a young person’s mental health, we can support you in the following ways:

  • If you need support call the CAMHS Crisis Line on 020 3228 5980 or South London & Maudsley’s 24hrs Mental Health Crisis Line on 0800 731 2864
  • If you are with someone who has attempted suicide, call 999 and stay with them until the ambulance arrives

Extra help

You can also get support from the following places:


Childline offers a free confidential helpline for children and young people in distress and offers support from counsellors online. Call 0800 1111, or get in touch via www.childline.org.uk


Shout is a 24-hour text service for anyone in crisis or struggling to cope. Text Shout at 85258, or visit www.giveusashout.org


24-hour confidential emotional support for people experiencing distress, call 116 123.

Kooth online counselling service

A free, safe, and anonymous support online wellbeing community is available at www.kooth.com

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