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Thursday, September 18, 2014

SLaM launches innovative new pilot for eating disorders

South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) has launched an innovative new service for young adults with eating disorders, offering tailored online support and group-based therapy.

FREED (First episode and Rapid Early intervention for Eating Disorders) is a 15 month pilot study in south east London. It aims to facilitate rapid assessment and flexible tailored treatment for young adults with anorexia or bulimia in the early stages of their illness. The service involves a designated eating disorders clinician assessing the young people and coordinating their care, following a clear decision for early treatment and management. The clinician will then be able to offer a range of proven therapeutic interventions, including individual or group-based therapy, online supported treatment and university holiday sessions.

The initial assessment will involve the patient and their family or carer, and will consist of a thorough assessment of their clinical state, risks, motivation, support and strengths. The young person’s therapy will be centred on the use of a patient workbook or an interactive online programme, empowering patients to use their own coping skills. This will be supported by guidance sessions from a FREED clinician. There will also be a carers’ skills manual, an interactive online skills programme and skills training groups.

More intensive treatments, such as day-care or inpatient treatment, will be able to be accessed if necessary. Over the course of 15 months, the project team will be developing and testing their innovation, putting it into practice, and gathering evidence about its impact and effectiveness.

The pilot study was funded by a £75,000 grant from the Health Foundation’s Shine programme and will be conducted in collaboration with King’s College London (KCL). It was one of a handful of mental health projects to be selected from hundreds of applications.

SLaM’s eating disorders service is a specialist facility for people who have anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or mixed eating disorder symptoms. Our unit provides a safe healing space where people can explore their difficulties and gain control over their eating disorder, working one-to-one, within a group and as part of their family.

Danielle Glennon, project lead at SLaM said:

“Eating disorders are serious illnesses which can derail young people’s personal and educational development. In this project we are trying to break down the barriers that prevent young people from accessing timely effective treatment and thus prevent distress, chronicity and complications.”

Ulrike Schmidt, consultant psychiatrist in the eating disorders service at SLaM and Professor of Eating Disorders, KCL said:

“We are modelling the FREED approach to intervention and evaluation on that extensively studied and widely used in the field of psychosis. Given the pernicious effects of starvation on the developing brain we believe that reducing the duration of untreated eating disorders could make a big difference to clinical outcomes in young people.”

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