An estimated 188,000 Irish people will experience an eating disorder at some point in their lives, however many find it difficult to find the information they need, the HSE has said.
In an effort to tackle this, the HSE Clinical Programme for Eating Disorders, in collaboration with Bodywhys (the Eating Disorders Association of Ireland), has launched its first self care app.
Early intervention is linked with better outcomes and a faster recovery. However, research suggests that more than 85% of people with eating disorders find it difficult to access treatment.
The app aims to provide accurate information and advice for anyone worried about developing an eating disorder, or for those who have been diagnosed or are recovering from one.
It also contains helpful information for family and friends including advice about what to say and do, guidance to get help at the right time and place, and help on the road to recovery.
"Research tells us that the more understanding someone has about their health condition, such as an eating disorder, the more confident and actively involved they become in managing their health. This in turn supports clinical care and can lead to better outcomes and recovery.
"We hope that this app will be a great support and source of information for people with eating disorders, their families and carers, and the therapists and clinicians who provide care for them," commented HSE consultant psychiatrist, Dr Sara McDevitt, who led the app development group.
According to Bodywhys CEO, Jacinta Hastings, having so much information in such an easy-to-use format "makes information sharing very accessible".
"Research indicates that online is a key source of information and help among young Irish people in relation to mental health and this resource, specific for people affected by eating disorders, will provide information on self care, self help and signposting to get help at the right time and place," she noted.
Meanwhile, according to GP, Dr Aoife O'Sullivan, this app will be a very useful resource for GPs, who are often the first point of contact for patients with eating disorders and their families.
"It gathers lots of information together in a user friendly format with links to safe and reliable support groups and websites. GPs can encourage patients or worried families to download the app for information and support while awaiting, and while engaging in, treatment programmes," she said.
The HSE is reminding people that the app is not a treatment programme or a replacement for medical advice. For advice on how to access healthcare support for eating disorders please, contact your local GP.
The app can be downloaded here.
For more information on Bodywhys, click here.
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