Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Eating Disorder Service

Information for young people

All about eating disorders

  • Getting help
  • Useful information
  • Advice from other young people
  • Getting involved
  • Common questions young people ask

Legally, if you are under 16, your parents will need to attend your initial assessment as they are responsible for you so we will need to ask them before we can help you. This can be really helpful as we might be able to help them to support you and understand you better.

If you are 16 or over, we would strongly recommend that you invite your parents to the initial assessment appointment. You will be offered individual time with a clinician where you can talk about things you may not want to discuss in front of your parents.

If you require on-going treatment within our service, we can discuss with you who will be involved in your care and who will attend your CAMHS appointments.

No, at CAMHS, your information is treated confidential within our service. After your assessment, we will contact your GP. If we did think it would be helpful to liaise with other services such as your school, we will only do so with your consent.

As part of medical monitoring, it is likely that you will need to weighed. We understand that this can be difficult for some young people. We can talk about weighing arrangements with you to make this easier. Weights are important to monitor progress and a way for us to monitor your safety. However, weight is not the only measure we use to monitor your health. We also look at other physical health indicators but most importantly, we listen to what you and your family report to us.   

If you are underweight, part of your treatment may involve restoring your weight back to what is healthy for you and your body. Our first priority is ensuring that you are physically healthy and fit. This may seem frightening and unpleasant but we need to ensure you are not putting yourself at risk of harm.

Being underweight and/or not eating enough has significant risks and consequences on your health. Please look at our body map to learn more about the effects of being underweight/not eating enough.  We know that gaining weight may be a difficult experience for you and so part of the treatment will support you and your family to manage this process.

Each young person’s journey through CAMHS is different so there is no one answer. Our figures show that the average time a young person spends in our service is around one year however some families need less time and others might require more.

This is a question we hear a lot! Being underweight is not a criterion to be diagnosed with an eating disorder. According to a research study (Fairburn & Harrison 2003), 80-85% of people with eating disorders are not underweight.

Your appointments will be arranged between you and the clinician who is meeting with you. Appointments can be booked week by week but also can be booked further in advance if this is helpful. Appointments may fall in school times but we will try our best to work around your needs.

You may have heard from other young people or read on the internet that some young people have not found CAMHS helpful. Like all things in life, each of us experience things differently to one another. Just because your friend may have not found CAMHS helpful does not mean you will not either.

At the same time, we do recognise that some young people may find it difficult to accept they have an eating problem and do not want help from us. Our experience is that at the beginning of treatment, you may find it difficult but by the end of treatment, young people are often grateful for the help they receive from CAMHS.

A young person who has previously been in our CAMHS eating disorder service has advised us on this question and said:

‘It might be difficult at first but taking this first step is the best you can ever do.’

Last updated: 31 August, 2018