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Many months waiting for eating disorder treatment

17.09.2021 - 15:49
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 Mynd: RÚV
The father of a 14-year-old girl with a serious eating disorder is upset at the long wait to hear anything from the children and teenagers’ mental health department at Landspítali national university hospital, after her case was referred there. He is now investigating treatment for his daughter overseas. The mother of another girl says she is spending 36,000 krónur a month on therapy while she waits to get into hospital.

Never before have so many children and teenagers been in eating disorders treatment at Landspítali. A doctor told RÚV that a waiting list recently formed for eating disorder treatment for the first time. A report into the consequences of the pandemic confirms that referrals for eating disorders among children and teenagers are up 70 percent.

To protect the identity of his 14-year-old daughter, whose eating disorder is becoming steadily more serious, the father wished to withhold his name. “Something that triggered it was just one sentence that she was sent in a message that said she was fat, even though she had never been anywhere near having so much as an extra gramme of fat on her. She decided to take her diet really seriously. Then, one noticed some time after the New Year that she was not consuming enough food, not enough energy rich food, and she started getting thin,” the father told RÚV. 

She then admitted to her parents this spring that her idea to lose weight had become an obsession. By that point she had stopped menstruating and has gone on to lose another seven kilogrammes this summer. 

No answer from the hospital 

“Since then, it’s got worse and worse. We got an appointment with a psychiatrist who confirmed what we thought, that this was a serious problem, and she was referred to BUGL (the Landspítali children and teenagers’ mental health facility). Since then, nothing has happened. We have repeatedly called them.” He says he has been promised calls back on many occasions but never received any. 

“At the same time, I’m watching her crash, quickly and definitively. At this stage we’re just waiting for any information at all; whether we’ll be waiting two weeks, three weeks, six months, or 20 months as it seems to be now. But there come no answers. Nothing at all.” 

Five month wait for six-month delay notice 

RÚV spoke to the mother of another girl who has had an eating disorder since the age of 13. She is now 15.  

In March, she was referred to BUGL and in August—five months later—the mother received a letter to say the mental health facility would get in touch again after six months to see how things are going. The mother is paying 36,000 krónur a month for a private therapist. 

The girl has stopped menstruating, she isolates herself and suffers from anxiety. She is very worried about what people might be saying about her, and cannot eat in front of anybody but her parents and grandparents. Her parents have needed to adapt their mealtimes so that nobody mentions how the food tastes, nor whether they are full up or still hungry. Nobody is ever invited over for dinner, and dinner invites are never accepted. 

The parents of both girls are extremely worried about their children while they are waiting for the treatment they need. The father of the first girl is actively investigating treatment overseas. “While it is like this here, one has to stop relying on getting help here, if this is the response we get. There is no [response].” 

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