Quickbite: Use of mental health legislation in eating disorders

E. Jane B. Morris

30 minutes


March 2018

Learning module

CPD domain:

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Doctors often struggle to assess risk and decision-making capacity in patients with severe eating disorders, and to apply mental health legislation to protect individuals’ life and health without undue restriction of liberty.

The effects of eating disorders on the decision to accept treatment are more subtle than those of most other severe mental illnesses. Risks to personal health and safety are less likely to involve clear-cut acute physical violence.

Once the decision is made as to whether to invoke the law, there remains the task of finding means to impose effective treatment. Eating disorders do not respond to injectable medications but require a range of co-ordinated interventions over many months, sometimes even in the face of persisting refusal.

This module addresses a challenging area of psychiatry, in which our wish to maintain a compassionate attitude can be strained to the utmost.


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