Family and Patient Support

Eating disorders can happen in families for lots of different reasons, there is no one reason why. We do know that supporting your child with an eating disorder is hard work so it is important that you look after yourself and get support too. Ellern Mede will assist the young person and their family.

Family involvement and group support are key to recovery and we have professionals who will guide you through this process. Family Therapy is an important part of our approach to the treatment of eating disorders here at Ellern Mede.

Whether your child is a patient here or in another setting or if you simply want more information about eating disorders we hope the following resources will be of help.

How do I know if my child or family member has an eating disorder?

If you or a family member are worried you should visit your family doctor in the first instance.  The following is a simple test used in many healthcare settings.  It is written by Morgan, Reid & Lacy and called The ‘Scoff’ Questionnaire. This is not a replacement for a clinical diagnosis, but you will find it useful if you are wondering if you could benefit from medical help or just counselling to improve your relationship with food. Remember, while this is a test relevant for a person of any age, Ellern Mede only treats people aged 8 to 18, and 18 to 22. Younger children should see a Paediatrician. Older people should see a service specialising in adult eating disorders.

Answer these 5 questions honestly:

  1. Do you make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
  2. Do you worry you have lost Control over how much you eat?
  3. Have you recently lost more than One stone in a three month period?
  4. Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin?
  5. Would you say that Food dominates your life?

Two or more “yes” answers indicate some level of disordered eating.

You might find it helpful to read our jargon buster.

If you’re struggling and would like to speak to someone, please see your GP, if it’s about a young person, call Ellern Mede on 0203 209 7900 or 07377 747908 or reach out to charities who can advise and help:

  • Beat Eating Disorders offers a Helpline, a Helpfinder Directory of services, one to one chats, online groups, message boards, and also offers Echo, a free peer coaching telephone service which matches skilled volunteers with parents or carers who are supporting someone with an eating disorder. Tel: 0300 123 3355
  • Childline: Tel: 0800 1111
  • Papyrus:   Tel: 0800 068 4141
  • The Mix:   Tel: 0808 808 4994
  • YoungMinds: Tel: 0808 802 5544

“Families need specialist support when they are dealing with a member of the family having an eating disorder. You can speak to our team confidentially and we will either be able to help you directly or sign post you to where you will find appropriate support.”

Dr Hind Al Khairulla

Eating disorder therapies available for children and their families

  • Initial psychiatric assessment of children
  • Physical and Mental Health assessments including specialist tests as required (eg blood tests, scans, psychometric testing, and neuropsychological assessment)
  • Psychiatric sessions with children
  • Consultant psychiatrist support for the family
  • Family Therapists support for the family
  • Psychological therapies for children including:
    • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
    • Cognitive Remediation Therapy
    • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy
    • Psychoeducational interventions
  • Systemic and Family therapy initial consultation and follow up
  • Family-based interventions including coaching on meal support
  • Specialist Dietetic input and meal plans


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Family therapy advice can be arranged for any family who has a member in either inpatient or outpatient care with an Ellern Mede service. To arrange, please call our main office number 020 3209 7900.

Head Office, Ellern Mede Ridgeway
Holcombe Hill
The Ridgeway
Mill Hill
London NW7 4HX

NHS referrals

Ellern Mede has provided specialist Tier 4 eating disorder services to the NHS since 2000. We respond to referrals within 24 hours.

Private referrals

Call now for immediate access to Ellern Mede specialist private eating disorder services. Accepted referrals begin treatment within two weeks or faster in emergencies.