Eating Disorder support for Students – National Research

National Research on availability of Eating Disorders in Student Services

We’re undertaking a groundbreaking research project with Student Minds the University and College Mental Health Charity to understand the provision of support for students with eating disorders across the UK and to make national recommendations and identify possible new solutions.

Approximately 1 in 10 students may experience an eating disorder(1).

Eating disorders are often misunderstood but can impact anyone – regardless of age or gender – and can have a huge impact on a young person’s life. Eating disorders involve a range of emotional and psychological challenges and commonly occur alongside psychological problems, such as those related to anxiety or depression. While an eating disorder can have a severe impact on a student’s quality of life, with the right help students can and do recover from eating disorders. We’ve met hundreds of incredible students that have done just that.

In recent years we have heard of substantial challenges experienced by students in ensuring quick access to specialist eating disorders care.

Nationally, it is thought there may be gaps in specialist support for students experiencing eating disorders and there are reports of students being turned away from help due to increasingly limiting ‘thresholds’ for statutory NHS services. However, we don’t currently have a comprehensive national view of what this looks like.

We need to undertake research and speak with students and professionals to truly understand the picture. 

That’s why the two Charities are working in partnership with academic partner King’s College London (KCL), and a wider coalition of additional academic and charity partners to understand how to best support students experiencing eating difficulties in the academic environment.

We will map national provision with our expert Eating Disorders advisory group and the help of university partners, conduct interviews with students, and undertake data analysis from the First Steps ED, Eating Disorders In Student Services (EDISS) Universities currently receiving this specialist eating disorder mental health service.

The key output of this project will be an easy to use report for the Higher Education and NHS Health sectors summarising all of our findings and making clear recommendations to help improve the support available for students with eating disorders whilst at University.

The success of this project, however, will be completely dependent on identifying the student services staff, professionals and students to participate.

​We hope you’ll join us on this important project to change thousands of people’s lives and prevent so many students from falling through the gaps and the grip of eating difficulties.

Please go to our partners Research website pages:

STUDENT MINDS – website to find out how to get involved

Change how Students with Eating Disorders receive the support they need to thrive during their University journey.

(1) More than 1 in 10 young people may experience an eating disorder. References: Stice, Marti & Rohde, 2013, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 122, 445-457; Eisenberg et al. (2011), J American College Health, 59, 700-707.

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