Referrals at Alder Hey have increased significantly during lockdown however anyone can be affected at any time.


The Eating Disorders Youth Service (EDYS) at Alder Hey is based within our mental health services and supports children of all ages who are struggling.

Eating Disorders can cause severe cognitive impairment and physical health problems, often affecting a child’s relationship with their family and friends as well as disrupting their access to education and important childhood opportunities.
Our team works together with families, schools and agencies across the community to support young people towards recovery and wellness, seeing young people very quickly (within 7 days if risk due to the eating disorder is very high and within 28 days for all cases). Through individual and group therapy, family therapy, peer support, and physical health monitoring and advice, our team support our young people to have bright healthy futures. The EDYS team has seen a big increase in referrals during the pandemic and expect that pattern to continue throughout the current national lockdown. Every child and young person with an eating disorder will experience their condition in a way unique to them, but it is common for them to have feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame around their condition.

Lisa Cooper, Director of Community and Mental Health Services at Alder Hey, said: “We have seen a large increase in referrals for children and young people with eating disorders...and a significant increase in the most severe cases, which are most likely due to late presentations because of the COVID pandemic and necessary restrictions around GP visiting and remote schooling. Changes to patterns and routines around eating can be difficult for children and young people with eating disorders. We want to reiterate to children and families that they are not alone and support is available, despite the restrictions brought about by COVID-19. It is a challenging time but together we can continue to support bright futures for our children and young people.”

Recognising the triggers of children and young people with an eating disorder and working together as a family to reduce triggering experiences can really help them to feel supported. You can find out more by watching our short videos below featuring a range of professionals from Alder Hey. 

We encourage parents, professionals and young people to learn more about how disordered eating can affect young people, and the signs to look out for to help us to recognise if someone we know is unwell. By raising awareness of the challenges faced by our young people, and raising funds for our children’s mental health appeal, we can make a difference together.

Alder Hey Children’s Charity 7 in 10 Mental Health Appeal aims to raise an ambitious £3 million by 2022. We are building a brand-new home for our children’s inpatients and community mental health services, right next to the main hospital. Supporting the appeal helps us to achieve our vision and offer the best service we can to our young and deserving patients enabling more children to access the treatment they need at the time they need it.

Download  Dietitian Sharon's Normal and Disordered Eating Factsheet here.


Read our patient stories:

Adam's Story - in his own words

Faye's Story


7 in 10 children do not access the support they need early enough. We know that by developing the facilities and services needed, Alder Hey can change the future of children’s mental health. We can provide the listening ear that is urgently needed in child-friendly surroundings where we can hold these conversations. Together we can help to build a brighter future for children and young people. Read more about our 7in10 Appeal here.