News & Media

Government must implement plan to tackle eating disorders now

28 July 2021

Statement by Senator Annie Hoey
Spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science

Following the publication of HSE figures showing an increase in referrals for people seeking treatment for eating disorders, Labour Senator Annie Hoey has called on the Minister to urgently outline her plans to address the need. Highlighting the continued failings by Government to provide adequate funding to the treatment of eating disorders, Senator Hoey said that this issue cannot continue to be ignored.

Senator Hoey said:

“I am deeply concerned by the figures released today. We are all aware of the huge impact of the pandemic on peoples lives, and my office has been inundated with queries from young people in particular seeking help for eating disorders. As a member of the Health Committee, I requested that the care for those suffering from eating disorders be prioritised back in May of this year.

“There has been much talk about regional beds and increasing resources throughout the country, but the time for talk is over. The Minister needs to urgently increase funding and capacity within the HSE to treat these people. A plan for beds and resources isn’t worth the paper it’s written on if it’s not implemented immediately.

“The same 3 beds have been available for ED care for over a decade now, despite clear knowledge that eating disorders have the highest mortality and morbidity of all of the mental health conditions. While we absolutely need better and more robust treatment for people with eating disorders from the State, there is also a role for the social media companies that may be affecting people’s body image, self-esteem and triggering of eating disorders. I have written to Facebook and Instagram in this regard.

“The tsumani of referrals for treatment for eating disorders started long before the pandemic, but even still, I am stunned by the explosion in the situation throughout the pandemic.”