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12 year olds seeking help

Wednesday, 12th September, 2018 5:01pm

Children as young as 12 have been seeking help for eating disorders in Cork, a new report has revealed.

The report from the Eating Disorder Centre Cork (EDCC), to be launched this Friday, shines a spotlight on the prevalence of eating disorders in Cork and Munster, notably among women and young people.

It reveals that children as young as 12 years old are availing of the centre’s services, which help treat illnesses like anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating disorder. The EDCC is a not-for-profit charity in Cork city which has offered counselling and other services to those suffering from various eating disorders since it opened in 2008.

Speaking about the report, Dr Cormac Sheehan, Primary Care Research Officer HSE, Cork North and the Department of General Practice UCC, said: “We were surprised to see the age range of those attending the EDCC.

“Obviously a 12-year-old will have very different treatment needs than a 60 year-old, so the service operates in very tough conditions. So they must be doing something right in relation to how they engage with different aspects of eating disorders, working with parents in the cases of younger children, and with adults individually.”

The report, based on anonymous surveys of attendees to the EDCC, also reveals that significantly more women than men are accessing the centre, with 89 per cent of respondents being female.

“Women are often more likely to seek help and support than men in general, for example going to their GP,” Dr Sheehan said. “It could be that men are less willing to come forward, as well as the fact eating disorders to tend generally to affect women more than men.”

Confirming the high number of young people seeking help, Dr Sheehan noted that one third of the visitors to the centre are between 15 and 20 years old.

“For these people, it’s not just physical health that is an issue; there’s also the absenteeism and financial burden involved for those who might be going to school, attending college or who are working for the first time,” he said.

The report shows a 95 per cent satisfaction with the centre’s services since its inception ten years ago.

“There are more than 70 people attending weekly or fortnightly appointments at the EDCC,” Dr Sheehan said.

“This report is significant as it shows the strength of the services provided by the centre. For any service to operate to that level of satisfaction is great, and across the board respondents said they would actually attend sessions more frequently if they could.

“The seriousness of an eating disorder is a cause of anxiety and worry, especially for parents,” Dr Sheehan continued.

“This is reflected in the demand for the EDCC’s services from people in Cork and further afield. The message is to seek help and talk to someone if you are worried.”

The ‘Perspectives on the EDCC’ report is being launched by the centre, the Community Work Department, the HSE and the Department of General Practice in UCC in the Western Gateway building at 1pm this Friday. Dr Sheehan will speak on its findings, with An Tánaiste Simon Coveney, Minister of State for Health Jim Daly and both the Lord Mayor and County Mayor set to be present.

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