Harper is to lead eating disorders debate in Parliament

South Scotland MSP Emma Harper is to lead a debate in the Scottish Parliament to mark Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which this year focuses on the early warning signs of eating disorders in primary care.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 25th February 2022, 7:18 pm
South Scotland list MSP Emma Harper
South Scotland list MSP Emma Harper

In her motion, Ms Harper – who is co-convenor of the Mental Health Cross Party Group – recognises eating disorders can affect anyone at any stage of life, but recent data suggests that around 25 per cent of those living with an eating disorder are male.

At least 1.25 million people in the UK are living with an eating disorder and over the course of the pandemic, between 2019 and 2020, there was an 86 per cent increase in eating disorder referrals across Scotland.

The motion for debate, which has achieved cross party support from MSPs, also congratulates the charity BEAT Eating Disorders, along with specialist NHS practitioners and services, for all they do to support those with eating disorders, as well as their families.

Ms Harper said: “Eating disorders are mental health conditions where a person uses the control of food to cope with their emotions. This can impact on anyone at any stage of life and on everyone differently.

"It affects at least 1.25 million people in the UK and the evidence shows that eating disorder referrals have increased over the course of the pandemic.

“Eating disorders can lead to people gaining, losing or having no obvious changes to their weight.

“However, there are key symptoms such as going to the bathroom for extended periods immediately after meals, rapid weight gain or loss, tiredness and fatigue and having negative perceptions of their own body.

"It is important to ensure anyone experiencing these symptoms is supported.

“I welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment of £120 million for a mental health recovery and renewal fund, which has a focus on additional support for mental health in primary care settings and enhanced community support.

"However, I want to see this action taken quickly and I have raised a question of the Scottish Government to ask when the recommendations from the Scottish Eating Disorders Review Group, chaired by former MSP Dennis Robison, will be taken forward.”