May 29th, 2018

CARED – Website for parents and carers

CARED is a website for parents & carers who are supporting a loved one who has recently been diagnosed with an eating disorder aged 25 or younger.
CARED aims to:

  • address the sense of burden and isolation parents & carers may feel
  •  improve confidence
  •  provide practical hints & tips

Therefore improving outcomes for young people who are experience eating disorders.

Recovery from an eating disorder can feel overwhelming at times however it is possible. There is no one cause for eating disorders and it is no one’s fault an eating disorder has developed.

CARED was developed by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Eating Disorder Development Team in NHS Lothian alongside parents, carers and young people have been through and recovered from eating disorders. It was funded by the Scottish Government’s Technology Enabled Care Grant, is in partnership with Beat, the national eating disorder charity, and is part of the Scottish Mental Health Strategy (Action t 22) for 2017-2027.

Eating disorders are a complex mental health illness which affect 725,000 people in the UK (Beat, 2015) with young people aged between 12 to 20 at the most risk at Eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorders and OSSED (Other Specific Food and Eating Disorders). Anorexia usually emerges in adolescence when a person is still developing (Herpertz-Dahlmann et al, 2014).   with an average duration of 6 years (Treasure et al 2005). Bulimia often presents later in adolescence (Smink, Hoeken and Hoek, 2012) and Binge Eating Disorder and atypical eating disorders are known to affect people across the life span.

Parents are a key to identifying early symptoms of eating disorders and supporting treatment. It is recommended that the majority of young people with an eating disorder are treated in a community setting (NICE 2004) with some evidence based treatment modalities e.g. Family Based Treatment (FBT), actively encouraging parents to be a major part of the treatment team. This highlights the need to provide enhanced support to parents and carers.

Eating disorders can have considerable impact on families and carers, both personally and economically. Adverse consequences for caregivers include anxiety and depression, burden and can prove costly as, for example, families and carers may be required to make changes to their own work to care for their child or young person.

Family members and other caregivers have identified a need for information about how to help their loved one recover from the illness (Haigh & Treasure. 2003). Many current interventions for parent and carers use group work or workshops at set times, which can be hard to access for busy families, and can often be more focused on long term eating disorder treatment and adult based approaches.

We hope CARED offers an alternative to this by focusing on early intervention and freely available information at a time that suits the parent or carer.

The Website

CARED was launched during Eating Disorder Awareness Week in February 2018. It has a host of evidence based information as well as skill based hints and tips, printable resources and video clips from young people who have recovered and parent and carers who supported someone with an eating disorder.


People who have used the website are already telling us it is useful, helpful, relevant and that they have learned something new from visiting the site.

“I found the videos particularly useful, especially those from parents. It has been quite a relief to know that others have felt the same as I currently do.”

“I would recommend this although I have felt overwhelmed by all of the information and things that are likely still to come. It is helpful to feel prepared

Although CARED was specifically developed for people in Scotland we have had visitors to the website from across the world, including Peru, America and Australia!!

Key Message from CARED

  • Eating disorders have no one cause. It is not the person’s fault that an eating disorder has developed nor is it a parent or carers fault.
  • Eating disorders can affect boys and girls and people of any race ethnicity or background.
  • Recovery is possible!
  • It’s important as a parent or carer you look after yourself.

If you are concerned that someone you know has an eating disorder you can get advice on the NHS UK website or use the Feed Your Instinct website which can help you understand what may be going on for your loved one. It has a helpful “check list” which can help you identity eating disorder behaviors and provides a report you can take to the GP.

Alternatively, you can visit Beat, the UK’s lead eating disorder charity’s website for advice and support. Beat offers telephone support and online group support as well as “HelpFinder” which identifies eating disorder support and treatment in your area.

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