New app empowers people with eating disorders
A new free app has been launched in Wales which provides tools to support and empower people with eating disorders as well as their loved ones. The Diet or Disorder? app provides a host of information in a portable format, including giving education and information to those seeking or receiving mental health services about eating disorders and decisional tools to help identify an eating problem.
It has been designed and tested by both experts with experience and members of the public who are not so familiar with eating disorders, as well as health care professionals. The Diet or Disorder? app will signpost to available support in Wales, gives simple self-help strategies and links to other resources.
The app is a collaboration between Swansea University and Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, with substantial input from Tier 3 Adult Eating Disorders Service, sufferers, carers and the third sector. Advice was provided by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service Network (CAHMS), public health, education and primary health care professionals.
Jacinta Tan, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Swansea University, led the development of the app and said:
There are currently 1.6 million people in the U.K. who are directly affected by eating disorders and the healthcare costs to the NHS is between £3.9 and £4.6 billion each year. Eating disorders are serious and have the highest mortality rates of any mental disorder and that’s because only a minority of people receive the help needed from specialist or general mental health services.”
Evidence has shown that eating disorders usually begin in adolescence and young adulthood and early identification and intervention is vital as recovery is less likely if remained untreated for over three years. This app aims to get straight to those who need it most with benefits derived from such early intervention.”
The app aims to provide evidence-based information based on the NICE, Welsh Eating Disorder Framework, and adults and paediatric MARSIPAN (Management of Really Sick Patients with Anorexia Nervosa) guidelines. It has been funded by the AgorIP programme with money from Welsh Government.
Health Secretary, Vaughan Gething said:
I’m pleased to lauch the new app, it is an important resources for young people who are worried about themselves, their friends and loved ones and are unsure where to go for advice.”
The app is another imprtant tool in our arsenal in battling eating disorders and ensuring many more people can recover and live fulfilling lives. As technology in life beomes ever more present it is refreshing to see professional and helpful advice readilly available in a digital form.”
Bethan Jenkins, AM and chair of the National assembly’s cross-party group on eating disorders said:
I was thrilled to sponsor the launching of this app. I know how groundbreaking technological advancements can and have helped shape healthcare for the better and there is certainly scope for technology such as this app, to provide an extra tool in early intervention.”
We know that the most crucial stage in any eating disorder is that time when the problem first begins to develop, when a person may be worries about themselves or a friend or family member. Quite often, support and advice is what’s lacking and this app has the potential to add that extra, non-clinical advice and self-help for someone at a crucial stage. The team developing, and all those involved deserve congratulations.”
The app will be evaluated on uptake, effectiveness, and impact, with the development team also seeking to develop further apps for use within the mental health field.
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