A national discussion is needed on our approach to preventing eating disorders and supporting young people who suffer from an eating disorder, according to Mayo Fine Gael Senator Michelle Mulherin.

Senator Mulherin raised her concerns in the Seanad after data published by the child and adolescent psychiatry surveillance system showed that up to 4,000 children and adolescents in this country between the ages of eight to 17 may be suffering from anorexia nervosa. She said in Mayo she has been working with a number of families trying to access services to help their child overcome the illness.

The escalation of the problem is reflected in the increase in referrals to child and adolescent mental health services, CAMHS, provided by the HSE, where there has been a 40% increase in referrals since 2011.

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