A support service is highlighting the help it can offer people with eating disorders at Christmas and New Year.

This time of year can be the cause of extreme anxiety and stress as the focus of the party season most commonly shifts to eating and drinking with friends and family.

Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is hoping its newly launched Brighton and Hove Eating Disorder Service (BHEDS) will be the first of many services to offer help to adults diagnosed with mild to moderate or severe eating disorders.

The service brings together a multi-disciplinary team of experts to offer treatments for anorexia, bulimia nervosa and binge eating.

GPs can refer patients directly to the scheme, which provides speedy access to a range of treatments for people in the city.

This includes open groups, drop-in sessions, therapy groups, individual input counselling and a new peer-to-peer support service for men, women and carers.

Renate Pantke, a severe eating disorder consultant clinical psychologist, believes a lot of work still needs to be done to dispel some of the misunderstandings and misconceptions around eating disorders.

She said: “What people don’t realise is that if you have an eating disorder your risk of dying is far higher than if you suffer with a drug or alcohol-related problem and is, in fact, the highest of all mental health illnesses.

“We work with adults to offer help in addressing and dealing with the anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, shame, guilt and helplessness associated with, and contributing to, this disorder.

“By working closely with Brighton and Hove health commissioners, and having secured additional funding, we are now able to offer this service to people in the city, but our ultimate aim is to use this initiative as a template for similar services right across Sussex and the surrounding counties.”

For more details about services, speak to your GP or call the Sussex mental healthline on 0300 500 0101