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CBT-E: an effective new treatment for eating disorders

Eating disorders affect around 750,000 people a year in the UK. Conditions such as anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating all impact on people’s social life and ability to work. But they also severely impair physical health and can be fatal.

Psychological treatments are the first-line treatment for eating disorders, and are a lifeline for many people. But they are hard to access, with demand for services at breaking point – and crucially they don’t always work for everyone that needs them.

At MQ, we passionately believe research can help us change this. And news out today has shown how.  

A new report published by the Chief Medical Officer has recommended that all patients should have access to a new form of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy called CBT-E.

This new treatment is the first to show positive results for patients of all ages and diagnoses. It is a highly individualised treatment, designed to fit a persons difficulties ‘like a glove’ and be modified in the light of their progress. Developed through extensive research at the University of Oxford, and developed by MQ Trustee Professor Christopher Fairburn, this treatment is an important step in the fight against mental illness.

The development of CBT-E shows clearly how research can help us deliver better, more accessible psychological treatments. And through building an evidence base, we can make sure these are offered in the NHS. In area like eating disorders, where hospital admissions are rising for the hundreds of thousands of lives affected each year, this is a vital task.

But sadly, not enough funding is being provided to deliver more of these transformational advances.Our analysis found that just 15p is spent on research into eating disorders per person affected each year. 

Through our PsyIMPACT programme, we have begun funding new research, aimed at finding similar innovative treatment advances in psychological treatments in mental health. But this is only a start. We need a major shift in funding, from the government and general public, if we are truly going to provide hope of better treatments for everyone affected by mental health problems.

Last updated: 1 December 2016

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© MQ: Transforming mental health 2016 | Registered charity in England / Wales: 1139916 & Scotland: SC046075 | Company number: 7406055