Health Minister Says Eating Disorders A Growing Issue Among Young People


The Covid pandemic led to a spike in young people accessing mental health services which in turn led to a rise in waiting lists, the minister for mental health has said.

Mary Butler said there was a worrying link between eating disorders in young people and social media.

The minister was speaking in Dublin at the launch of the four-year organisational strategy of youth service Jigsaw. She said, of particular concern was the level of admissions for eating disorders.

“We have seen a spike in the number of young people who are seeking supports, especially in relation to eating disorders. Last year, for example, 487 young people had to be admitted to an inpatient unit in relation to eating disorders.

That has a huge correlation with the challenges young people find in relation to online social media and the challenges they face with having the perfect body or the challenges they face when somebody posts a comment about them.”

‘A bit of a postcode lottery’

Ms Butler said that while there were “really good services” around the country, there was “a bit of a postcode lottery” in terms of access to services. She said staffing was a key issue here, with it taking about 50 weeks to get a psychologist into place in most cases.

She said this could be particularly difficult when a person was already employed in the HSE as the subsequent role had to be filled.

Ms Butler said she was not happy that 78 per cent of children had been seen in the system within 12 months but said she expected this figure to come down.

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