It was while browsing social media at the age of 13 that Hannah realized she had an eating disorder. Seeing other girls and women talk about their experiences, she thought, “This is me.”
Since that time, the now 17-year-old has been on the road to recovery, which includes recent relapses during the Covid-19 pandemic. He said that after initially seeking support through his GP, it took him “about a year to get help”, despite “seeing three different doctors.”
The rise in eating disorders among young people has been featured in recent report showing that the number of problems has doubled in recent years.
It comes amid a general decline in mental health among people ages six to 23, with more than half of 17 to 23 year olds battling insomnia.
Hannah attributes the rise in eating disorders to a lack of control among her generation.
“I think that’s the main thing and there is also a huge misconception about balance and what is healthy,” he said, adding that during consecutive crashes, people were bombarded with messages that they needed to “exercise” and “lose weight. ”.
She finds social media to be more helpful than harmful, and says it has allowed her to connect with people who share her experiences. She has also had trouble getting help, saying she often felt rejected by doctors.
When she first approached her family doctor, they seemed disinterested, even though her period had stopped.
Eventually, she was referred to children’s mental health services and received outpatient support, which continued until the first coronavirus pandemic shutdown in March 2020. As soon as support was withdrawn, she relapsed and is now back in the system. of attention.
Rebecca, a mother of two, agrees that getting support for young people is a challenge. She has struggled to get help through NHS for his 11-year-old son, who has anxiety-induced insomnia that leaves him awake in the middle of the night. He finally paid for a private counselor.
There is not enough recognition for mental health problems in young children, she said, adding that her son’s problems really “came to a head during confinement.”
“[He] he’s an excessive thinker, ”he said. In addition to the pandemic, her insomnia has also been affected by starting a new school and moving house. After trying home remedies, such as sprinkling lavender on her son’s pillow, she sought professional help.
The boy believes that the increase in insomnia is due to the pressure his generation is under, aggravated by the coronavirus.
“In the confinement, people were trapped inside all the time and couldn’t see their friends. That made things worse, ”he said. He added that social media does not help, as it magnifies children’s problems.
That is why Rebecca tries to keep her children away from platforms like WhatsApp, and believes that not being able to sleep is intrinsically linked to increased anxiety and the fact that young people are exposed to much more than previous generations. . “They have also endured a lot in the last 18 months,” he said.
Rebecca’s nine-year-old son exhibits the same symptoms as his brother, although she has yet to explore whether he, too, has anxiety.
“I think there should be more recognition of mental health problems in young children. If the pandemic hadn’t happened, I think there would be less awareness, “he said.
Hannah agrees that education is key and said she would love for schools to talk more about eating disorders. “A lot is taught about the obesity crisis, but no one talks about those who die of eating disorders every year,” he said.
“Intervention also needs to be faster because the longer an eating disorder is left untreated, the more difficult it is for someone to get better.”