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Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2020

– in the Scottish Parliament on 4th March 2020.

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Photo of Christine Grahame Christine Grahame Scottish National Party

The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S5M-20901, in the name of Emma Harper, on eating disorders awareness week 2020. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament notes that 2 to 8 March marks Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2020; understands that approximately 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder and that these conditions are serious mental illnesses that can have high mortality rates; acknowledges the importance of organisations such as Beat and the Scottish Eating Disorders Interest Group in providing vital support to families and professionals; notes the valuable work that Diabetes Scotland does to help people who have, or are at risk of developing an eating disorder, and the assistance that it provides to those that support them; commends NHS Lothian and Beat for the development and delivery of nationwide peer-support services for young people with an eating disorder and their families; welcomes the recognition by the Scottish Government in its Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027 of the crucial role that the third sector plays in supporting people, providing services, carrying out research and developing policies; further welcomes the commitment in the Strategy for access to the most effective and safe care and treatment for mental health problems to be made available across Scotland, and commends the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce for recognising the importance of empowering and supporting families and other carers.

Photo of Emma Harper Emma Harper Scottish National Party

I welcome the opportunity to lead this debate during eating disorders awareness week, which runs from 2 to 8 March. This year, the focus is “

Why Wait?” I thank colleagues from across the Parliament who signed my motion. For many years, our debates on the subject were proposed by a former member of the Scottish Parliament, Dennis Robertson, who has been a real champion for eating disorders and has undoubtedly played his part in putting the subject on the political agenda. He has been so brave in highlighting that his daughter Caroline died because of an eating disorder. I am aware that he will be listening to the debate.

I particularly thank both the Scottish Eating Disorders Interest Group and Beat, which are represented in the public gallery. Emma Broadhurst from Beat, who has been extremely helpful as I prepared for the debate, has asked for members who speak, if they can attend, to gather for a photo call after the debate. Both charities do fantastic work day in, day out supporting those who are affected by eating disorders, their loved ones and their families.

About 1.25 million people across the UK are living with an eating disorder, and the number is on the increase. Figures show that, in 2018-19, 726 people in Scotland alone were treated for an eating disorder, compared with 436 in 2008-09. Although it is welcome that more people are receiving treatment, it is of course concerning that more people are presenting with eating disorders. It is therefore right that the Scottish Government is taking the issue seriously and has introduced a range of measures to allow for quicker treatment of eating disorders. I will touch on that later.

The definition of an eating disorder is when someone develops an unhealthy attitude to food. It can take over their life and make them very ill. Eating disorders come in various forms, from anorexia, where people try to keep their weight as low as possible by not eating and even overexercising, to bulimia, where people lose control, eat a lot of food in a short time and then make themselves vomit, purging what has been consumed.

A very dangerous eating disorder is diabulimia, which occurs when people with type 1 diabetes—I am a type 1 diabetic—deliberately omit their insulin in order to control their weight. That is very dangerous, as elevated blood glucose can lead to ketoacidosis.

I congratulate Diabetes Scotland on its work on diabulimia and encourage anyone who is interested to have a look at its advice and support information.

The key symptoms of the disorders include excessive worrying about weight and body shape; avoiding social situations in which food may be involved; frequently visiting the toilet after meals and returning looking flushed; and not being upfront about what food may be being consumed. It is important for family members, friends and colleagues to be aware of those tell-tale signs.

Eating disorders are complex disorders that can be influenced by many factors. Research has shown that there is a link between eating disorders and depression, low confidence and low self-esteem, and research by many universities and groups continues to point to the relationship between social media and eating disorders, particularly among young people. Social media sites allow young people the opportunity to connect with others on multiple platforms and venues. That is great, as it allows connections to be made and ideas, knowledge and information to be shared. However, as I am sure that members will be aware, social media can also be a dangerous platform for hate and discrimination. Seeing dieting ads or frequently being exposed to images that may provoke body image concerns can be damaging and dangerous to young people. In some cases, the ads and posts may lead to young people developing an eating disorder and put many others into the at-risk category. Social media interactions are often an extension of an adolescent’s life, so being aware of online safety and the issues that young people may face online is so important for families and friends. I ask the Scottish Government to keep that in mind when overseeing the development of any proposed guidance.

I was pleased to hear the Scottish Government’s announcement this week that eating disorder services will be subject to a national review that is designed to assess and improve support for people who are living with an eating disorder. The review is due to publish its findings in spring next year, with the aim of providing a full picture of the current support that is available for those with an eating disorder. It will then offer recommendations to inform improvement work throughout 2021.

The review forms part of a programme of work to improve performance in mental health waiting times and to support early intervention in community settings and across the third sector, local government and the national health service. Work on the review will last for six months and will commence following the publication of the mental welfare commission’s report on eating disorder services, which is expected this summer. The MWC report will be used as a solid foundation for the review and for future work on eating disorder support services. As co-convener of the mental health cross-party group, I look forward to continuing to monitor the work, and perhaps we will review eating disorders and the continued work of the Government at one of our meetings.

Recently, I contacted the dietetic team at NHS Dumfries and Galloway, which has a dietician who works specifically with people living with, or at risk of developing, diabulimia, anorexia or other eating disorders. I was interested to hear that, because of Dumfries and Galloway’s rurality, some people who are at risk of developing an eating disorder may not be picked up as easily or may be reluctant to access support because of the travel that is involved in attending appointments. I highlighted that issue in the debate last year; I am pleased that it is specifically addressed in the new package of support, but I again ask the minister to ensure that people in hard-to-reach rural areas are supported.

I will briefly mention the Scottish Government’s mental health strategy and the children and young people’s mental health task force, which was chaired until recently by Dr Catherine Calderwood. The strategy acknowledges the crucial role that the third sector plays in supporting people, providing services and carrying out research. We need to remember the third sector and how important it is that it can contribute. I was therefore pleased to see that all those points will form a large part of the review work that is being carried out.

I again welcome the opportunity to lead this important debate, and I look forward to hearing from other members.

Photo of Angela Constance Angela Constance Scottish National Party

I thank my colleague Emma Harper for securing this important debate, which acknowledges eating disorder awareness week and the stark reality that more people lose their lives from eating disorders than any other psychiatric condition. As was said by Dr Stephen Anderson, the chair of the eating disorders faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Scotland:

“Eating disorders are the deadliest and most lethal of mental health conditions and we know that earlier intervention saves lives.”

It is imperative to shine a light on the work that is being done, but also the work that needs to be done, not only this week, but week in, week out to improve quick access to the right treatment at the right time. We should always remember that recovery is possible.

I was encouraged by the minister’s announcement this week that there will be a thorough but speedy review of eating disorder services. That is a crucial first step to a new programme of action to improve services for those who are living with an eating disorder.

There is growing recognition in the development of public services that changes need to be rooted in the evidence and testimony of those with lived experience. We have seen that in new approaches to tackling homelessness and in building our new social security system from the ground up. Eating disorder services should be no different.

I will share with the chamber the experience of my young constituent and her family. Molly is 16 and she is very bright; her parents are proud of her and her individuality and she is an exceptional young woman. Molly’s mum, Lorraine, came to see me last week. She gave a heart-wrenching account of the diligent and persistent attempts by devoted parents, over the course of a year, to try to get help for Molly. There were lots of deeply concerning signs of anxiety and depression, there was regular attendance at the general practitioner, being passed from pillar to post and a lack of treatment options. Although some responses were more positive than others, decisions were made about Molly by people who had never met her. There was poor communication from services and a lack of connectivity between the different services. Thankfully, Molly was eventually seen by a psychiatrist in December—just in time, because she had to be admitted to hospital because her organs were shutting down due to anorexia.

Molly’s mum, Lorraine, described the devastation and anger that she felt at her daughter’s life being put in danger due to what she describes as an “absolute failure of systems”. At the end of the day, all that Lorraine wants is for us to do better by our bairns. Any service provider or decision maker would do well to listen to Lorraine’s experience of being a mum who has had to battle with the system.

Following a helpful conversation that she had with me last week, I have written to the minister and have asked her to meet Lorraine. I know that the minister will want to identify the best way for the testimony of those with lived experience to be at the heart of the service review.

We have a journey yet to travel to deliver on the principle of “ask once, get help fast”. We need to give serious consideration to how we can meaningfully support parents and carers, especially if intensive home-based treatments are to be developed as an option; I hope that they will be. If funded, there are great opportunities for the voluntary sector to help improve the breadth, depth and connectivity of our services.

Thank you very much to the minister for the conversation that we had last week. I have written to her and I know that she will respond to me very soon.

Photo of Alexander Stewart Alexander Stewart Conservative

I am delighted to contribute to Emma Harper’s members’ business debate. I congratulate her on bringing it to the chamber.

As we have heard, 2 to 8 March is eating disorder awareness week. As we know, about 1.25 million individuals in the UK suffer from an eating disorder of some type. We have also heard that there is a worrying increase in cases in Scotland. I look forward to what the minister has to say about that in her contribution, because I am aware of the situation that she has tackled so far, and a review is a good way forward to try to manage the situation.

These conditions are a serious mental illness. They can and do devastate individuals and families, and, sadly, there is an increasingly high mortality rate. This time last year, I was vocal in my support for eating disorders awareness week when, here at the Scottish Parliament we had Beat’s new campaign, sock it to eating disorders, which it promoted in its excellent exhibition in the garden lobby. The campaign recognises and combats the myths and misunderstandings that surround eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating.

In recent years, members of this Parliament have had the opportunity to raise the profile of eating disorders, and tonight’s debate is another such opportunity. There is much that we can do to ensure that everyone who is affected by an eating disorder in Scotland can get the help that they need. We can lodge written or oral parliamentary questions to ministers and we can ensure that individuals in our constituencies and regions, including NHS leaders, are aware of the issue.

We heard about the link between eating disorders and social media. We must be live to the concept of body image and the risks that individuals take.

A shocking statistic is that, on average, individuals who have eating disorder symptoms wait for 149 weeks before they seek help. We have to ensure that such people get support and assistance quickly.

The Scottish Eating Disorders Interest Group, Diabetes Scotland, Beat and the NHS all provide vital support to individuals who have or are at risk of developing an eating disorder, but they are under continued pressure and need support if they are to look after vulnerable individuals. The value of such organisations’ support and assistance, especially through the delivery of nationwide peer-support services for young people who live with eating disorders and their families, is well understood.

In a recent YouGov survey of adults in the UK, which was conducted for eating disorder awareness week, it was found that more than one in three respondents could not name any sign or symptom of an eating disorder. It is sad that that is the reality. We have to reinforce the message.

It is known that the sooner someone seeks treatment, the better. Treatment is vital, as is acknowledgement of the problem. If individuals are to have faith and be given hope, we must empower them to take action, however long they have had their symptoms.

An eating disorder is a terrible experience for an individual to suffer, whatever their age. I am keen to ensure that, whatever campaign is active at any time, we get the message to as many people as possible, as often as possible and whenever possible, that they require support and assistance if they are to survive their disorders and thrive.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

I congratulate my colleague Emma Harper on securing this important debate on an issue on which

I have long campaigned. I brought a members’ business debate on the issue to the Parliament in February 2008. My former colleague Dennis Robertson led on the issue with great passion during his five years of serving in this Parliament, and I am delighted that Emma Harper has picked up the cudgels.

In 2009, I lodged a motion that expressed concern about the proliferation of pro-anorexia websites, which portray anorexia as a glamorous lifestyle choice rather than a potentially fatal psychiatric illness. More than a decade later, such sites still exist. They offer tips on how to accelerate weight loss and disguise fasting from concerned friends and family, as well as advice on how best to induce vomiting and use laxatives. Pro-anorexia websites reach a wide audience and are particularly aimed at young women.

If we are serious about protecting people from eating disorders, we must do more than just monitor dangerous pro-ana sites. I echo calls from charities such as Beat for social media platforms to act to ensure that content that promotes conditions such as anorexia cannot be posted.

Last year, a study by Youthworks Consulting, which works with schools and local authorities, revealed that eating disorders had overtaken cyberbullying as the top source of online concern among 10 to 16-year-olds. Figures for cyberbullying have remained virtually static since 2014, whereas figures for eating disorders have risen steeply. The data also showed that the proportion of young people who view pro-anorexia sites increases dramatically during the teenage years, from 22 per cent of 12-year-olds to 44 per cent of 15-year-olds.

The numbers are deeply disturbing and completely unacceptable. Beat estimates that around 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder, and it is clear that such disorders are reaching epidemic proportions.

Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, from medical complications associated with the illness as well as suicide. Meanwhile, bulimia is associated with severe medical complications and binge eating, and sufferers often experience medical complications associated with obesity.

In every case, an eating disorder affects quality of life, often of not only the sufferer but those who care for them. It is important to treat such conditions as early as possible, rather than when weight is critically low. Family members of people who suffer from eating disorders often believe that their doctor is not well informed. Greater education of the medical profession is required if people are not to be turned away because their weight is “not yet low enough”, as has happened in the past.

Specifically, diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders must be taught appropriately and assessed at all Scottish medical schools. The topic of eating disorders is generally overlooked in medical training, with severe consequences for the prognosis and safety of patients. For example, on average just 1.8 hours is spent on teaching about eating disorders, and one in five medical schools in the UK do not provide any teaching on the issue at all. The result is patchy service and inadequate treatment of sufferers. Each of Scotland’s junior doctors should gain clinical experience during their foundation training.

Eating disorders are often hidden away from society. I am therefore pleased by the Scottish Government’s recent announcement that eating disorder services will be subject to a national review that is designed to assess and improve support for people living with such disorders. At a time when and in a society where much revolves around unrealistic physical representations on television and social media, it can be tempting for girls, boys and adults to negatively change their behaviour to conform to some body-image stereotype. For others, eating orders are a manifestation of deep-rooted internal issues, trauma or depression. Anyone can be impacted by an eating disorder; such disorders tend to creep up on people, some of whom are not even aware that their relationship with food is unhealthy and that they have a disorder.

Eating disorders awareness week plays a vital role in focusing attention on the causes and symptoms of, and solutions for, these conditions, and I am always keen to support it. I look forward to the publication of the Government’s review in spring next year and its recommendations to inform improvement work throughout 2020 and 2021.

Photo of David Stewart David Stewart Labour

I, too, commend Emma Harper for bringing this vitally important topic to the chamber, especially during what is, as we have heard, eating disorders awareness week.

As we have already heard, the number people living with eating disorders in the UK is more than 1.25 million. It is a mental health crisis that disproportionately affects our young people, women and girls.

Eating disorders respect no boundaries and pay no heed to status or position. Diana, the late Princess of Wales, spoke publicly in 1994 about the issues and about her battles with bulimia and self-mutilation. She said:

“I am certain the ultimate solution lies within the individual. But, with the help and patient nurturing given by professionals, family and friends, people suffering eating disorders can find a better way of coping with their lives.”

As we all know, Princess Diana fought to increase understanding about bulimia and helped to raise public awareness of eating disorders.

The figure that I referred to is just an estimate, as diagnosis is often delayed or missed entirely. As we have heard, anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. The start of treatment takes an average of three and a half years from the onset of an eating disorder. That is often due to problems with identification but also because of delays in referral and long waiting times in an already underresourced and overburdened NHS.

All too often, the family and friends of people with eating disorders bear the brunt, offering valuable help to aid recovery but also taking on high levels of psychological distress and their own emotional weight. They, too, are in need of help and support so that they can be fully empowered to help their loved one through the crisis. That is echoed in the theme of this year’s eating disorders awareness week.

I welcome the people in the gallery from the charity, Beat, who do outstanding work to support all those affected, as well as raising awareness and looking at better ways to support friends and family members. The support of friends, families and neighbours is key in enabling someone to overcome an eating disorder, but that should not come at the cost of the supporter’s mental health.

Beat’s “Best practice guidance in the engagement and empowerment of families and carers affected by eating disorders” is a rallying call to arms for healthcare professionals, with eight steps for them to adopt in order to best support everyone involved. I am proud to have signed up and pledged my support to stand with Beat this week, to call for the best care, support and information for people with eating disorders and their friends and family.

As I mentioned, the gap between the onset of an eating disorder and the start of treatment is often too long and can impede recovery, as early support is highly beneficial for long-term recovery.

According to Beat,

“The Scottish 10 Year Mental Health Strategy details a commitment to delivering on the principle of ‘ask once, get help fast’. Yet this is far from a reality for many people in Scotland with an eating disorder.”

Even once a diagnosis has been given, the care that a patient receives is down to a postcode lottery. A freedom of information request that Beat submitted just last year showed that one NHS health board does not have an adult eating disorder service, one only provides day-patient services, and one can only treat those with severe anorexia nervosa. That situation is inevitable, given that so little time and so few resources are spent on training medical staff on the issue. One in five medical schools do not provide any training at all, and in those that do, an average of only 1.8 hours is spent teaching about the issue.

This national eating disorders awareness week, let us join together in supporting the call for better care for people with eating disorders and for the family, friends and carers around them, who are also affected, and let us say that, no matter where they are on their road to recovery, we support them.

Photo of David Torrance David Torrance Scottish National Party

I thank Emma Harper for securing the debate. Today, we raise awareness of a national issue that is estimated to affect 1.25 million people in the United Kingdom. It is an issue that is rarely discussed in our open spaces because of the societal stigma that renders those affected unable to recognise their illness or voice their struggles.

Eating disorders are a medical illness—they are serious, can be fatal, and can affect anyone. Whether or not we are personally affected by eating disorders, this week is about becoming better, more considerate and more informed. Our empathy and understanding can be lifesaving for those who suffer from anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and other specified feeding or eating disorders.

Organisations such as Beat and the Scottish Eating Disorders Interest Group have been tremendous resources in demystifying the complexities of the illness. We are able to understand more about eating disorders despite not having any reason to know about them outside of what is shown in the media. The media has portrayed a particular story about who gets eating disorders, what causes them and what the symptoms are. Although the media can open the public up to more understanding, it perpetuates a stereotype that only young females are affected, which does not reflect the full spectrum of the issue. According to Beat, eating disorder stereotypes make the illness even harder to spot among older people, men and boys and ethnic and cultural minority groups. Inaccurate depictions of eating disorders can cloud the reality that all demographics might be facing.

Diabetes Scotland founded a campaign after noticing the lack of emotional and mental health support for people with diabetes. Diabetes and food are closely linked, so having diabetes can lead to an unhealthy hyperfocus on food that leads some people to feel negative about their diet, weight and body image. Most people do not recognise the emotional impact that diabetes can have, which can possibly lead to an eating disorder. Diabetes UK reported that patients have felt that they cannot get the emotional and mental health support that they need. Mitigating those frustrations is something that we can all take part in as a community.

The Mental Health Foundation found that one in three people with eating disorders had experienced stigma or discrimination in the workplace, and more than 80 per cent said that they did not feel that their employer was informed about eating disorders or how to handle them. Such reports highlight just how highly stigmatised eating disorders are. People are reluctant to talk to someone because they feel that their disorder is not serious enough, fear that they will worry people or waste their time, or feel guilty or ashamed. Our dialogue and conversations can help to break the stigma that often acts as a barrier to recovery.

NHS Fife has two incredible programmes to help those of all ages who are dealing with eating disorders. Fife child and adolescent mental health service established Scotland’s first intensive therapy service in 2002. Of the children and young people who have been seen by the ITS, approximately 50 per cent have been diagnosed with an eating disorder. The service provides high levels of therapeutic support to young people and their families.

NHS Fife is also lucky to have the anorexia nervosa intensive treatment team, which is made up of a small number of multidisciplinary professionals—a psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist, a dietician, assistant clinical psychologists and a team administrator. NHS Fife is committed to continuing its support of and treatment for all who present with an eating disorder.

For people with eating disorders to feel safe enough to disclose their pain, they need our understanding, compassion and acceptance. In the light of eating disorders awareness week, I encourage everyone to prioritise their mental health and treat it with urgency. People deserve to have their concerns acknowledged respectfully, to be taken seriously and to be supported in the same way that they would be if they were affected by any other illness.

Photo of Clare Haughey Clare Haughey Scottish National Party

I am pleased to respond to the debate on behalf of the Scottish Government. It is right that we hold this debate each year to mark eating disorders awareness week, as it allows us to raise awareness of eating disorders and the terrible impacts that they can have not just on those who are diagnosed but on their family and friends.

I want to acknowledge a few people, in particular, for their work in continuing to raise the profile of this devastating illness. First, I thank Emma Harper for lodging the motion and for continuing to focus minds on how important the subject of eating disorders is. That includes her continued work to raise awareness of eating disorders in relation to diabetes and to draw our attention to the important work that Diabetes Scotland does to help people who have, or who are at risk of developing, an eating disorder.

As I mentioned last year, I want to continue to honour our former colleague Dennis Robertson. Dennis opened many of these debates in the past, and I want to assure him that we will continue to fight for the right help and support to be available across Scotland.

I thank Beat, which continues to campaign tirelessly to raise awareness of eating disorders and to provide guidance and support for those with an eating disorder and their families and friends. I know that representatives from Beat are in the public gallery, and I hope that they are heartened by the cross-party interest in their work.

Lastly, I extend my thanks to those people across the country who work day in and day out to improve the lives of those with an eating disorder and their families.

On Monday, I visited NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to mark the start of eating disorders awareness week and to announce the Government’s commitment to a national review of eating disorder services, which I will return to later in my speech. I was really moved and inspired by what I heard during that visit. I spoke to young people and their families to hear about the support that they had received from the Connect-ED service, and two things were very clear. The first was the life-changing impact that our NHS staff can have on young people and their families, and the second was the fact that recovery from eating disorders is possible. It was a common theme throughout the visit that, even when things are at their darkest, the right help and support can make the world of difference.

Last year’s debate focused on tackling discrimination and breaking down the stereotypes that are associated with eating disorders, and many of the members who have spoken in this evening’s debate also spoke in that debate. As I outlined last year, eating disorders do not discriminate—anyone can be affected by them. They are serious illnesses that can change the lives not just of the people who are directly impacted by them but of those who care for and support them. That is why the theme of this year’s awareness week is incredibly important. This year, Beat is raising awareness of eating disorders and the support that it can provide to anyone who is affected. In particular, Beat wants to highlight the impact that eating disorders have on families, friends and everyone who cares for people with such a disorder. As we have heard, approximately 1.25 million people in the UK live with an eating disorder, but many more lives are impacted by each individual illness, and it is crucial that we recognise that.

Beat wants to highlight the fact that people with eating disorders are much more likely to recover with the support of family and friends. However, we need to ensure that people who support individuals with an eating disorder are also provided with appropriate support and information. That was another of the recurring themes that I heard during my visit to Connect-ED on Monday—the power of peer support, especially for parents, was brought up time and time again. Knowing that someone else is going through the same thing can be transformative, and the families to whom I spoke only wish that there had been more such support available.

That is one of the reasons why, last year, we committed to an expansion of NHS Lothian’s and Beat’s national digital peer support service for people with an eating disorder. We also launched Echo, which is a telephone coaching service for parents and carers. Through hundreds of hours of telephone support and emails over the past year, those support services have ensured that young people and their parents and carers have been provided with the support and guidance that they have required.

I have mentioned the Scottish Government’s commitment to a national review of eating disorder services, which is a game-changing piece of work that I hope is supported by all members across the chamber. We will build on the work of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, which is currently conducting themed visits of eating disorder services across Scotland and will publish its report in the summer this year. That will include a review of adult services and child and adolescent mental health services as well as out-patient, NHS and independent eating disorder care in Scotland.

Following the publication of that report, we will begin our six-month review, which will be independently led and will cover eating disorder services for adults and young people from the age of 12 upwards. It will conduct a needs assessment of the services that are provided by the third sector and community eating disorder support across Scotland, and it will make recommendations for a best-practice structure for specialist eating disorder services in urban, semi-urban and rural areas. It will also make recommendations on what age limit—if any—there should be for an eating disorder service.

We will make a further announcement about who will lead the review in due course. Our ambition is that the review will inform a second phase of investment and improvement work following the publication of its report in early 2021.

I want to talk about the excellent contributions that we have heard.

Emma Harper raised the issue of social media. We will publish social media and screen-time guidance in the coming weeks. That guidance has been developed by young people for young people, and the advice will include advice on the impact that social media can have on young people’s body images.

Angela Constance gave a very moving and concerning account of a constituent’s experience of services. She has written to me, and I will write back to her in due course. On the back of what I heard from parents and carers on Monday at Connect-ED and from Angela Constance’s constituent’s experience, I have also undertaken to write to the Royal College of General Practitioners, to discuss how we can work together to raise awareness in primary care settings of eating disorders, their signs and symptoms, and their diagnosis and treatment.

Alexander Stewart made a very considered speech, and Kenneth Gibson spoke about his passion for raising awareness of eating disorders over many years.

David Stewart gave us a very important and pertinent lesson in recognising the contribution of families, carers and friends to the recovery process.

I thank David Torrance for his measured contribution and his congratulations on the fine work that is being done by his local NHS board.

I again thank Emma Harper, Beat and everyone else who is involved in campaigning for the right help and support to always be available for anyone who is affected by an eating disorder. I assure them that they have the Government’s full support.

Meeting closed at 18:18.