Mayor thanks Priory eating disorder treatment centre for its work during the pandemic

  • Mayor of Merton, Sally Kenny, visits Priory Arthur House in south-west London to thank staff for their work during Covid-19
  • She said staff have gone “above and beyond” for their patients during difficult circumstances
  • Arthur House has been open throughout this period for those with a wide range of eating disorders
  • Eating disorders have risen sharply under lockdown
  • Priory Group has seen a significant rise in inquiries for its eating disorder services

The Mayor of Merton, Sally Kenny, paid a special visit to Priory’s Arthur House eating disorder service in south-west London to thank staff for their work in keeping the treatment centre fully open to patients throughout the pandemic.

The Mayor met service manager and psychotherapist Andreea Huttly to thank her, present a certificate of thanks, and to raise awareness of the work which services like Arthur House have been doing in the borough during Covid-19.

Mayor Kenny said: “My visit here is just to say thank-you. I have been visiting people, organisations and services in Merton to present a certificate of recognition for what they have been doing during Covid. The pandemic has added an extra layer of strain especially on residential services and so this is just to say thank-you for the important work you do and contribution you have made

Andreea Huttly said: “We were delighted to welcome the Mayor and have her recognise our work. It is hugely appreciated, and we know she enjoyed her visit and we will display her certificate with pride. We have been busy throughout Covid, both for inpatients and day patients. Many of those with eating disorders have found lockdown particularly difficult because of isolation at home and a lack of support systems around them.

“We have worked incredibly hard to keep our patients safe and to be creative around our work, because lockdown has meant several changes to the way we deliver some of our therapies.”

In 2020, Priory Group saw a 46% increase in the number of enquiries it received regarding treatment for eating disorders at its private clinics, compared to 2019. This included a 61% increase in the number of enquiries about anorexia nervosa, a 26% increase in the number of enquiries about binge eating disorder, and 16% increase in the number of enquiries about bulimia nervosa. 

Sabrina Cator, service development director for Priory’s private healthcare services, said: “Arthur House is an incredibly important service for those needing residential and day care for eating disorders. I am proud of what it has done, and continues to do, to keep patients safe and facilitate their recovery, and get their lives back on track. To have the Mayor take time out of her day to visit and acknowledge this is amazing. It has given the service an incredible lift and we appreciate it. Arthur House is an excellent service which further strengthens our existing services across UK hospital sites including Life Works in Woking, and Priory’s Roehampton Hospital among others.”

Arthur House is an innovative, CQC-regulated, residential eating disorder service based in Wimbledon Park. It provides an alternative to traditional eating disorder treatment in hospital via an experienced team of specialists with expertise across a wide range of eating disorder conditions.


Notes to editors

Photo attached of Mayor and Andreea Huttly.

About Priory Group

The Priory Group is the leading provider of behavioural care in the UK, caring for around 30,000 people a year for conditions including depression, anxiety, drugs and alcohol addiction, eating disorders and self-harming. The Group is organised into four divisions – healthcare, education and children’s services, adult care and the Middle East.


“Changing a difficult situation isn't always possible. So, accept what you cannot change and focus on the things you do have control over - such as regularly connecting with colleagues over video conferencing or online meetings.

Use music

“Put on headphones to listen to music can have many benefits, such as helping you relax and focus on something away from work and the outside world. Turn off rolling news and social media platforms such as Twitter, and just check in once a day. Stretch your legs and take a walk, even just to the garden, the kitchen or another room in your house before returning to your desk. Moving around and changing your environment, even slightly, can clear your mind and re-energise you.”

Coping with panic

Dr Donna Grant, consultant psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Chelmsford, offers some tips to help cope with panic at this time:

“Observe your thoughts and tell yourself that your mind is reacting to these thoughts and anxiety. These feelings are

normal - it's just the body's alarm system doing its job when it doesn't need to.

“Learn to control your breathing. People often hyperventilate during a panic attack. This means taking deeper breaths than normal which results in you feeling short of breath, causing a feeling of dizziness, disorientation and chest pains. By learning to slow your breathing down, you can help prevent the uncomfortable physical symptoms and stop the panic cycle. Try to get a slower and more stable breathing rhythm by breathing in for three seconds, holding your breath for two seconds, and then breathing out for three seconds. As you breathe, ensure that your stomach expands as you take each breath as this helps to ensure the breathing isn't shallow, which can add to the problem.

Learn to use positive coping statements

“When you are feeling anxious and panicky it can be helpful to have 'coping statements' which can be used to remind you that panic is not dangerous and isn't harmful.

Such statements could be:

- Panic is simply high levels of anxiety

- By remembering these symptoms are nothing more than anxiety, I can prevent further symptoms occurring

- My anxiety and panic will pass naturally given time. It doesn't last forever

Reminding yourself of these facts can help to prevent further panic cycles happening.

Keep a journal

Pamela Roberts, a Priory psychotherapist based at Priory’s Woking Hospital, adds that for those who might be self-isolating: “Ensure you are working in a well-ventilated room and following basic self-care, so healthy eating, sleep, lots of hydration, and try to keep to a routine. Set up a ‘buddy group’ with family or friends and regularly check in online or with Facetime.

“If you feel low, journaling can be a helpful way to unload emotions. Go with the flow. Tell yourself ‘what I am doing is enough’. Be good to yourself. If you have slept badly, accept you'll be in a low, more anxious mood. Your energy will be low. Try and relax and focus on positive things knowing that every effort is being made globally to bring this situation to a close, but it will take time. Being able to relax will help you through. When you're tense you tend to dwell on things and make them worse. If you are able, get into your garden and get daily doses of sunshine. Maybe look at some free online courses offered by the Open University. The mental health charity Mind has some very useful advice on self-isolating and your mental health. For support with grief, anxiety, or mental wellbeing, you can call or text an organisation like the Samaritans, or you can access therapy online with a trained therapist.”


Priory expert Steve Clarke, a psychotherapist and hospital director at the Priory¹s Life Works Hospital in Woking, Surrey, explains EMT: ‘Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) - Repetitive finger tapping can sometimes help to release negative emotions such as anxiety. It has been called a psychological version of acupuncture in that it involves making contact with a number of acupuncture points. The specific points to tap are the end-points of the major meridians (meridians are believed to be channels of subtle energy which flow through our body). So, whilst focusing on your negative emotion you tap on a meridian point (collarbone, under the arm and top of the head ­ try to avoid the face at these times) three to seven times, repeating your negative thought in your head. After each emotion, take a deep breath and exhale. Continue this until you feel calmer and relieved. When you feel more relieved, repeat the technique whilst you tap through a positive round, repeating more uplifting phrases.”


Dr Bijlani says: “Make time for a nourishing lunch with adequate hydration. Food and drink can greatly affect your physical and mental health. Stop working at the usual time you would if you had travelled to your office and then try and fit in some social calls to friends or family before you prepare your evening meal. Avoid drinking too much alcohol or eating unhealthy foods out of boredom. Try and keep to boundaries such as only drinking alcoholic beverages in limited quantities at the weekend. Having to spend endless time each day in our homes with others under the lockdown situation is certainly going to affect our relationships with them, regardless of whether they are our loved family members or not. Emotions can be “infectious” and if those around us aren’t able to keep calm and cope well, we could end up getting stressed, fed up, irritable or low ourselves. It’s important for each of us, where we can, to take responsibility for our own health so that we can help keep up a reasonable level of optimism and engender a healthy environment in our homes which we share with others. Try and do some things together, such as sharing the preparation and eating of meals and daily walks together while also maintaining respectful boundaries and giving each other space apart for private time alone. Work as a healthy community. Try and be sensitive, flexible and forgiving without losing your own sense of self or identity. The best way to keep your mood swings under control is to look after yourself by keeping to your usual routine of sleep, diet, exercise and other activities. If you have been prescribed medication for your mental health, then take it as advised.” 




Notes to editors

For interviews or inquiries, please contact [email protected]

About Priory Group

The Priory Group is the leading provider of behavioural care in the UK, caring for around 30,000 people a year for conditions including depression, anxiety, drugs and alcohol addiction, eating disorders and self-harming. The Group is organised into four divisions – healthcare, education and children’s services, adult care and the Middle East. The Priory Group is owned by NASDAQ-listed Acadia Healthcare, which is recognised as a global leader in behavioural health.

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