Did you know that Eating Disorders have the highest morality rate of any mental health illness? Or are you aware that one person dies from an eating disorder nearly every hour?
I predict your answer is: probably not.
My questions is: why aren’t there alarm bells ringing when we hear this statistic? Especially when it’s about a mental health illness that affects 1.6 million people in the UK.
To provide a positive answer to this question, today marks the start of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Over the next seven days charities will be working to raise awareness of eating disorders, focusing on the importance of individuals speaking out about their illness.
The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness (#NEDAwareness) Week is to shine the spotlight and get more people informed about eating disorders so that we can take action, fight for change and improve the many lives that the mental illness affects.
This year’s theme ‘It’s Time to Talk About It.’ Someone who knows just how important it is to talk about her mental health issue is 21-year-old H.M. (she wishes to remain anonymous), who has suffered with Bulimia Nervosa since the age of 15.
She says: “Talking about my eating disorder and letting my friends and family know more about it has really helped me improve my recovery.”
An East London graduate, H.M. went on to say that: “People like myself who have suffered with an eating disorder shouldn’t feel afraid to express how they feel because there are millions of others out there who can relate to your problems one way or another.
“The first time I admitted to having a problem wasn’t easy, friends and family didn’t know much about eating disorders so it was hard to receive the appropriate support.The more people who are raising awareness, like charities such as B-Eat and NEDAwareness, then the greater the knowledge people have on certain symptoms and causes to look out for that could help save many lives of those affected by an eating disorder.
Aligned to this year’s theme, ‘It’s Time To Talk About It,’ the purpose of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is to encourage everyone to get screened: it provides an online eating disorder screening tool to take a free, anonymous self-assessment to measure an individual’s risk of an eating disorder.
BEAT, a charity organisation to help those with eating disorders get treatment quickly, are also offering a tips campaign which friends and family too. It isn’t just GPs that need to be able to recognise the signs of an eating disorder, because while eating disorders are often associated with physical symptoms like weight loss, this isn’t always the case with some individuals the first warning signs will most likely be psychological.
Given that a shocking 70 percent of people affected by eating disorders choose not to seek treatment because of the associated stigma, this should be a huge wake up call to today’s society.
For more information on eating disorders and treatment, click here or keep up to date by following #NEDAwareness.