Eating Disorder Awareness Week runs from 27 February to 5 March – but what is the week all about, and why are people taking selfies of their socks?
Beat, the UK’s leading charity affecting those with eating disorders, is working to raise awareness of these serious mental health conditions.
Discussing the importance of providing people with treatment as soon as possible is a big part of their message, as is the role of GPs in treating eating disorders.
What experiences have those with eating disorders had with their GP?
In a recent survey, Beat asked nearly 1700 people about their experiences of going to GPs about an eating disorder, and the results showed were mixed.
Whilst many had good experiences with their GP, many had not, showing that getting help from a GP is something of a lottery.
Awareness of eating disorders is essential, so that all experiences with GPs are good ones, and GPs are able to spot the first signs of an eating disorder so that patients can be quickly referred for expert treatment.
What is an eating disorder?
Eating disorders are a range of conditions that can affect someone physically, psychologically and socially. They are serious mental illnesses and include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Over 725,000 men and women in the UK are affected by eating disorders.
Although serious, eating disorders are treatable conditions and full recovery is possible. The sooner someone gets the treatment they need, the more likely they are to make a full recovery.
What are the first warning signs of an eating disorder?
While eating disorders are associated with physical symptoms such as weight loss, the first warning signs are often linked to a person’s behaviour.
Spotting these psychological symptoms will help people spot eating disorders before physical signs appear – and this will help someone get treatment before the thoughts and feelings behind the condition become hardwired.
What is Beat doing to raise awareness of eating disorders?
On 28 February, Beat will be in Parliament, talking to MPs, healthcare representatives, mental health advocates and others about what is needed to ensure GPs can give patients the care they need.
They will call for more training for those who are the first port of call for those with eating disorders.
There is also a Tips campaign, where posters can be put up to increase the understanding that eating disorders are a serious mental illness that everyone needs to be able to recognise the signs of so they can get help quickly.
What is Sock It to Eating Disorders?
On 3 March, everyone is encouraged to wear their silliest socks, take a #SockItSelfie, and help raise money for Beat.
By wearing your silliest socks to school, work or University, and making a donation, more people will be able to access Beat’s helpline, online support groups, information and message boards.
Socks are £4 and are available on the website.
Donations to Beat can also be made online.