Association of Mental Health Providers

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Support for an Eating Disorder

Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2024 is an annual awareness campaign, led by Beat, which takes place from 26 February to 3 March. It is a chance to share the realities of eating disorders to provide hope, support, and awareness for individuals and loved ones affected by eating disorders.

An eating disorder is defined as a mental health condition in which you use the control of food to cope with difficult feelings and other situations. Unhealthy behaviours may involve eating too little or too much or being very concerned about your weight or body shape. Most people can recover from an eating disorder with the right support.

If you are concerned that you, or a loved one, might have an eating disorder, it is vital that you access professional help as soon as possible. The earlier you can get the right support, the better the chance of recovery.

The first place to look at accessing support should be with your doctor who will help identify if you have an eating disorder. If your doctor thinks that you have an eating disorder, they should refer you for further assessment or treatment with a specialist eating disorder service.

If you are worried about attending the appointment on your own, there is also the option to talk with someone you trust like a friend, a family member, or someone at school, university, or work and ask them to go with you.

Beat has further information on getting support for an eating disorder and a helpline you can call which is open 365 days a year.

As part of this blog, we would also like to highlight some incredible organisations that are part of our membership and work to support people living with an eating disorder.

Eating Distress North East is the only specialist eating distress charity in the North East offering therapeutic counselling and their organisation is a centre of excellence. They can offer free counselling, support, information, help and hope to anyone in the North East of England affected by eating disorders or eating distress. This support is offered to people who are experiencing eating distress with or without a medical diagnosis and is free of charge and by self-referral.

Their counselling service has had a hugely positive impact on the people whom they have supported, with 98% of people saying they experienced a positive change after counselling, 85% said they felt better equipped to deal with their eating distress and life events, and 77% who felt their self-esteem and wellbeing had improved.

This has been shown through feedback from people who accessed the service. They said:

“I think this counselling has been vital in helping me and my wellbeing, gaining a sense of control back to live a good life, and I’m able to see that I do have the capability to live a good life and that I am deserving of love.”

First Steps ED is an award-winning, quality-assured eating disorder charity that works, throughout the UK, to provide care and support for children and their families, young people and adults affected by eating difficulties and disorders. The services they can provide include support groups, workshops, counselling, befriending, peer support, school training and support for carers.

One person who used the service said:

“So grateful I found First Steps. My therapist has really given me the confidence and support to pursue recovery and heal.”

Talk ED is a national, peer-led charity supporting anyone affected by any eating disorder or eating distress and they offer personalised support. Their mission is to support, connect, empower, and inform anyone at risk of, or affected by eating disorders within the UK. They do this through 1:1 and support group services, helping families support loved ones, befriending, peer support groups and workshops, educating GPs, and by raising awareness through their online platforms.

The Association’s support services page is where you can find additional, UK-based organisations for mental health support. We know the importance of accessing timely and appropriate services and the devastating impact a mental health condition like this can have. Research suggests that there are approximately 1.25 million people in the UK living with an eating disorder. We hope that this page can help everyone find the right support.