The number of patients being admitted to UK hospitals suffering from eating disorders is on the up, creating more work for occupational therapists as a result.
According to figures from NHS Digital obtained by the Guardian, hospital admissions for eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia reached a record high in April 2017, when 13,885 patients were recorded as receiving treatment for their illness.
This marked a significant rise from just six years earlier, when there were 7,260 hospitalised throughout the country.
During this six-year period, a particular increase was recorded in the number of females aged 19 and under being hospitalised for eating disorders, with this figure almost doubling from 1,050 to 2,025.
Commenting on these statistics, Caroline Price, director of services at eating disorder charity Beat, stated: "What is clear is that the system is not working at the moment.
"What we desperately need is more money put into community services so people can get support close to home when they need it. This means we can intervene earlier and stop people ending up in hospital."
Occupational therapists are key to eating disorder patients' recovery. In many cases, they can help to bridge the gap between a patient's doctor and their home life, helping to support them as they learn new eating habits.
These healthcare professionals can also help those who are in recovery from illnesses like anorexia and bulimia to learn how to cope in different situations outside of a hospital or unit setting, supporting them in cooking for themselves and choosing what to eat when going out for a meal.
With eating disorder-related hospital admissions on the rise - quite possibly due to the ever-increasing popularity of social media fuelling insecurities in impressionable young users - it is clear that the support of specially trained occupational therapists is required in this field more than ever.
Written by Alex Franklin Stortford
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