Children's Minister talks about her recovery from eating disorder

  • Watch Becky Jago's interview with Vicky Ford

The MP Vicky Ford has spoken publicly about her teenage battle with an eating disorder in order to give hope to people going through similar experiences.

She said she'd been prompted to talk about her recovery from anorexia nervosa after finding that there had been an increase in the number of young people being treated for eating disorders during the pandemic.

The MP pictured at an Ipswich holiday activity camp for disadvantaged children last summer Credit: ITV News Anglia

She said:

"I decided to talk about it now because I’ve really been thinking very hard about the number of young people, especially young women and girl , who have been struggling with eating disorders during the pandemic.

The Norfolk-based eating disorders charity Beat estimates that around 1.25m people in the UK have an eating disorder. The charity says that while Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, with the right support almost 50% of sufferers make a full recovery.

Often the start of the illness in young people can be as a result of trying to take back some element of control over their lives.

Vicky Ford: wanted to give young people hope Credit: ITV Anglia

The Chelmsford conservative revealed in an article in the Times that she had begun struggling with her mental health as a teenager, following the death of her father, and her decision to go public also coincides with Children's Mental Health Awareness Week.

The former MEP said: "That was my experience as a teenager, I felt that my life at that point was not in control and so the one thing I could control was my diet and that led me to become very skinny and quite unwell,

"You never recognise how unwell you are, and that was my experience... My family and friends obviously recognised how sick I’d become but I didn’t.

She said the Government was investing in mental health services to ensure support was available. She says there'll be £500m pumped into NHS mental health services this year.

She also says there is a lot of work being done within the education system.

"We’ve done a huge amount through schools, including rolling out a new curriculum that helps young people to talk about mental health and well-being, and building their own resilience. We’ve put a lot more support into schools through a project which we’ve called Well-being Through Education, which put schools in touch with local experts. Tha really helps teachers and young people."

And she stressed that there was always hope.

Organisations offering help and support: