Thinking of children and young people with eating disorders during lockdown

Thinking of children and young people with eating disorders during lockdown

Thinking of children and young people with eating disorders during lockdown

2nd Feb 2021

Alder Hey Children’s Charity is working closely with the specialist Eating Disorders Youth Service (EDYS) at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust to raise awareness of how difficult lockdown can be for children and young people with an eating disorder.

The EDYS has seen a big increase in referrals during the COVID pandemic.

Every child and young person with an eating disorder will experience their condition in a way unique to them, but it is common for them to have feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame around their condition.

Lisa Cooper, Director of Community & Mental Health Services at Alder Hey, said:

“We have seen a large increase in referrals for children and young people with eating disorders this year compared to last, and a significant increase in the most severe cases, which are most likely due to late presentations because of the COVID pandemic and necessary restrictions around GP visiting and remote schooling.”

Lisa went on to offer advice to the families of children and young people with an eating disorder:

“Changes to patterns and routines around eating can be difficult for children and young people with eating disorders,

“Planning mealtimes ahead and involving children and young people can really help to reduce their anxiety and help them to feel more secure and supported.

Recognising the triggers of children and young people with an eating disorder and working together as a family to reduce triggering experiences can really help them to feel supported.

Alder Hey Children’s Charity 7 in 10 Mental Health Appeal aims to raise an ambitious £3 million by 2022. We’re building a brand-new home for our children’s inpatients and community mental health services, right next to the main hospital. Supporting the appeal helps us to achieve our vision and offer the best service we can to our young and deserving patients enabling more children to access the treatment they need at the time they need it..

The charity’s 7 in 10 Appeal was launched in Spring 2020 by Strictly Head Judge Shirley Ballas and aimed to highlight that 7 out of 10 children and young people who experience a mental health condition have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age in the UK.

Long term supporter of Alder Hey Children’s Charity, Shirley Ballas was keen to back the campaign and become the Appeal Ambassador: “Alder Hey means so much to me; it’s a world class place and the work they do there is inspiring and pioneering. To be asked to be part of the new £3m ‘7 in 10 Children’s Mental Health Appeal’ is an honour.”

Find out how you can support the appeal at

Tips for managing/supporting your child

Tips for managing/supporting your child to manage an Eating Disorder during lockdown:


  • Help is still available, it’s still important to contact your GP or local Community Eating Disorder Service if you feel that you need help/support.
  • Support can still be accessed (virtually) if you are self-isolating.
  • Access helpful websites (links below) they have lots of information and advice, as well as online support groups.
  • Let people around you know in advance how they might notice if you are struggling and what helps.
  • Be kind to yourself – It’s normal to struggle with adjusting to lockdown.
  • Talk to someone you trust
  • Keep to a routine as much as possible – particularly routines around eating and sleeping
  • Plan meals in advance
  • Eat together with other family members, try to avoid eating alone or in your room
  • Make plans for after lock-down ends
  • Keep in touch with people – make use of messages, phone-calls, video calls ect.
  • Make sure you are talking about things other than eating/food too
  • Keep busy eg. take up a new hobby or sign up for a free online course
  • Plan activities in advance eg. watch a film at the same time as a friend over video
  • Try background noise as a distraction eg. music you enjoy or a TV programme you have watched before
  • Take breaks from social media when needed





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