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Beat x The Mix Eating Disorders Awareness Week discussion

AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,012 Boards Guru
edited March 2023 in Health & Wellbeing
Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) will be from 27 February-5 March 2023.

We're going to be chatting here on the Discussion Boards with a helpline advisor from Beat , a charity that supports people struggling with an eating disorder and also those caring for someone with an eating disorder.

We'll be asking questions to a helpline advisor to help raise awareness of eating disorders, particularly around young men and how people can get support. They'll also be answering questions from anyone who is looking for support too.

If you'd like to have any questions answered, you can post them below or submit through our anonymous form.

Keep an eye out for our updates on this thread where we'll share more news on when the discussion will be taking place.
Maybe somethings don't get better, but we do. We get stronger. We learn to live with our situations as messy and ugly as they are. We fix what we can and we adapt to what we can't. Maybe some of us will never fully be okay, but at least we're here. We're still trying. We're doing the best we can. That's worth celebrating too ❤
Post edited by TheMix on
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  • AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,012 Boards Guru
    edited March 2023
    Hello everyone, there's still time to submit your questions. A helpline advisor from Beat will be answering the questions you've shared tomorrow. So far through our form, we've had the following questions:
    1. Is there ways to reach out for support when you're a teen without your parents finding out?
    2. My friend doesn't think anything is wrong, how can I help them?
    3. What resources are their for people who aren't able to to receive help through the MH services?
    4. What is the best way of dealing with a binging episode?

    If you'd like to have any questions answered, you can post them below or submit through our anonymous form.
    Post edited by TheMix on
    Maybe somethings don't get better, but we do. We get stronger. We learn to live with our situations as messy and ugly as they are. We fix what we can and we adapt to what we can't. Maybe some of us will never fully be okay, but at least we're here. We're still trying. We're doing the best we can. That's worth celebrating too ❤
  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Hi everyone! I hope you're all doing well. My name is Megan and I'm a helpline advisor at the charity Beat eating disorders. I'm here today in honor of eating disorder awareness week to answer some of your questions
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    Hey @BeatMegan. I am really glad to see you and be working with you today. Does our wonderful agree? (I think they will!).

    Firstly, @BeatMegan could you please tell us a little more about Eating Disorders Awareness Week and how people can get involved in helping to raise awareness?

    Please note for the community - please feel free to jump in and ask your own questions if you wish to. We will be here until approximately 5pm :)
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  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Thanks Laura :) great to be here! Eating disorders awareness week (27th feb- 5th March) is a time for us to raise awareness of eating disorders, challenge misconceptions, and encourage anyone affected by an eating disorder to reach out for support.

    There are plenty of ways for you to get involved this EDAW! It’s so important that we can start the conversation around eating disorders and a great way to do this is through social media, you can share our EDAW video and digital resources on this page- https://edaw.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/resources/
    Another great option is to speak to your school, college or workplace to see if there is anything they can do to help raise awareness like setting aside some time to learn about eating disorders and what support is available!
    You can also get involved with our current campaigns on the page below- https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/support-our-work/campaign-for-beat/current/
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    Thanks @BeatMegan. I can really hear the importance of helping to raise awareness, particularly through Eating Disorder Awareness Week but also all year round!

    It sounds helpful that there is a wide range of ways people can do this, such as by sharing some of BEAT's resources you have highlighted. Of course, education and the workplace is also a key factor.

    I wonder if you would like to expand on what your current campaign is about. For those of us, like me, who may not have heard about this previously :)
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  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Of course! So the area that we have decided to focus on this Eating disorder's awareness week (EDAW) is eating disorders in men.

    The reason behind this is that there is quite a stereotype that eating disorders are mainly an illness that women struggle with, so men (or anyone identifying as male) often get overlooked. This EDAW we want raise awareness that men get eating disorders too!
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    edited March 2023
    I can really hear the importance of addressing how eating disorders affect men, particularly as there is quite often a stereotype that they could be less likely to experience which needs to be busted.

    Really powerful in this awareness week. By any chance, @BeatMegan, could you please share some of the statistics from BEAT's research around how eating disorders impact men? :)
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  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Absolutely :) Around 1 in 4 people with eating disorders are men which means that men are a really underrepresented group when it comes to the way we think about eating disorders! We launched a survey to better understand the experience of men, boys and anyone identifying as male with an eating disorder.
    Of those that took part, 1 in 3 had never accessed treatment. 1 in 5 had never spoken out about their struggles. And 4 in 5 felt raising awareness would help more men get treatment sooner!
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    Thank you @BeatMegan. I find things like research and statistics particularly impactful for helping me to be more aware.

    I have noticed you mention this is men, boys and anyone identifying as male with an eating disorder. This seems to be a common pattern within your last couple of messages.

    Am I right in hearing this is more about gender than sex then, and perhaps gender perceptions and stereotypes?

    Men, boys and anyone identifying as male absolutely deserve to access treatment and support through speaking about it as much as anyone else <3
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  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    That's right, these stereotypes can affect anyone identifying as male as some people only think that eating disorders affect young girls. In fact that can impact anyone of any gender, race or age! So it's important that everyone knows their struggles are valid no matter who they are <3
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    Validation is super key and, hopefully, this awareness will help to make it more accessible for everyone to access treatment and support @BeatMegan.

    This sounds particularly important for men, boys and anyone identifying as male. Are BEAT doing anything, in particular, at the moment to support men, boys and people identifying as males? :)
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  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    We are yes! We’re excited to announce that we’ve launched a men’s online support group. The group is called Osprey and it runs every Tuesday from 6.45pm to 7.45pm.
    It will be a safe space for people to connect with others going through similar situations. Like all our groups, it’s set up in a chatroom format similar to this :3

    You can find the group on this page- https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/get-help-for-myself/i-need-support-now/online-support-groups/
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    edited March 2023
    It sounds super useful, and exciting, that there is a men's online support group! Has this launched as a result of this year's Eating Disorders Awareness Week @BeatMegan?

    It sounds like a productive action to result from this awareness week and I am intrigued to hear even more about it.

    Is there anything else you would like to share about the men's online support group and/or the other types of support you offer at BEAT? :)
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  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Thanks @Laura_tigger82

    We launched the group in the run up to EDAW to make sure we have something to offer men who were reaching out to us as a result of the campaign!

    We also have different groups for different eating disorders and a general group called the Nest that runs everyday from 8pm-9pm. For anyone looking for 1-1 support, we have a helpline and webchat service that's open from 9am- midnight in the week and 4pm- midnight on weekends.

    We also have lots of other support programmes that I could go on about for hours but you can find a brief overview on this page- https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/beat-support-in-my-area/england/me/
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    edited March 2023
    It sounds like BEAT's campaign was really useful, not just to create awareness but also to increase the services available for men! Thanks for sharing this with me @BeatMegan.

    One benefit I can, particularly, see related to BEAT's support is that you offer a safe space, a bit like the safe space we offer here.

    Before I move on to asking you the questions sent from our wonderful and brave community, could I please ask you to clarify how BEAT makes support a safe space? :)
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  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Of course! So all of ours support groups are facilitated by one of our advisors which means they are there to support the group and moderate any messages so that nothing triggering or upsetting gets shared. We do our best to make sure everyone feels welcome!

    Anything shared in the groups, webchats and helpline can remain anonymous and confidential :)
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    Thanks @BeatMegan. It sounds like there are a range of things you can do at BEAT to help accessing support feel less triggering and upsetting and more welcoming, anonymous and confidential <3

    That ties in nicely with a question one of our wonderful and brave community members have asked. They have asked, "Is there ways to reach out for support when you're a teen without your parents finding out?". Would you be able to answer that, please? :)
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  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Thanks for this question, I know it's definitely something that a lot of people worry about!
    Talking to friends and family about your mental health can be a really difficult step to take and although we would always encourage this, we understand that you might want to consider some other options too.

    The first step in getting support is often going to the GP. When you go to the GP about an eating disorder, everything you say will be kept confidential unless they believe you are at risk of significant harm. This means you are able to speak to the GP without your parents and they can help to get you the support you need. There’s some more useful info on going to the GP without parents on this page- https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/bullying-abuse-safety/getting-help/visiting-your-doctor/

    You can also reach out to us at Beat via our helplines, webchats or online groups for some more guidance. Reaching out for support is a really brave step to take so you should be extremely proud of yourself for considering this!
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    I can certainly hear how that might be a common worry @BeatMegan. It is lovely that there are lots of ways to access support whilst remaining anonymous and confidential, unless there are particular concerns.

    Hopefully, your message has encouraged people to talk to their family and friends if they feel comfortable with this. However, for those who do not feel comfortable with this, it sounds like it might be reassuring to access support anonymously and confidentiality to a certain extent.

    You have even included some resources people might like to consider accessing for support, such as their GP and BEAT! Though, if anyone does want any further clarification on this, please feel free to ask away and we will do our best to support you <3

    Another question, related to friends but this time supporting friends rather than receiving support from friends! Another wonderful and brave community member has asked "My friend doesn't think anything is wrong, how can I help them get support?". Could you answer this, please? :)
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  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    If anyone does have any further questions about any of these suggestions then do let me know :3

    To answer the question about supporting a friend- This can be a common (and difficult) problem faced by people with an eating disorder, especially if they have been experiencing the symptoms for a while, it can feel like the new norm for them.

    Continued honest and open conversations with the person about your concerns, at a time when you have privacy and are feeling calm, can encourage them to realise that they need help. Try to show that you are not accusing them of anything and just explain why you are worried, perhaps by asking them to look into the symptoms of an eating disorder to see if this is something they might identify with.

    It may be useful to see if they could try using our helpline or webchat service to talk about what they are experiencing. The more they can talk over the issue, the more likely they are to realise there is a problem and they can get support. They are very lucky to have a friend like you who is looking out for them!

    Do remember that eating disorders not only affect the person suffering, but also everyone around them and it can be hard to see your friend struggling. So if you are supporting someone with an eating disorder, you are not alone in this and we are here to help! <3
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    It sounds really difficult that eating disorders can feel like the new norm for people who have been experiencing the symptoms for a while :/ But thank you @BeatMegan, awareness can only increase our empathy and support!

    I can hear how mutual conversations with honesty and openness at a time when there is privacy and feeling calm could be helpful in encouraging people to realise they need help. They can hear your concerns, but also be aware you are not accusing them of anything.

    Researching together sounds helpful too! Do you have any recommended resources people could look at for symptoms of eating disorders? I am aware there are quite a few different resources available but wondering if you have any that you think are particularly credible, for example.

    Talking sounds really important. However, having others in addition to a friend sounds really useful for making it a little more manageable for the friend too. As you said, it can be hard to see friends struggle, with anything - including eating disorders and difficulties.

    We certainly are here for friends too <3
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  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Absolutely @Laura_tigger82

    A great place to start could be this page on the the different types of eating disorders if you click on each one it lists the symptoms so you could go through and see if anyone of them feel familiar. It's worth mentioning, there are some eating disorders on there that aren't as well known so if you are struggling with your eating but don't feel that you identify with the symptoms of anorexia or bulimia for example, you might find that you identify more with one of the other eating disorders listed!
    https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/about-eating-disorders/types/

    We also have some great practical advice on this page about how to support someone with an eating disorder https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/support-someone-else/tips-for-supporting-somebody-with-an-eating-disorder/
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    Thank you @BeatMegan. Hearing about the different types of eating disorders sounds really useful as they can all present slightly different symptoms.

    As you say, there are eating disorders which are less known at the moment, sadly, and may not be listed. Eating disorders can quite often flow into each other and overlap though as well, can't they?

    Your resources link in with another question asked by another one of our wonderful and brave community members.

    They ask "What resources are their for people who aren't able to receive help through the MH services?". Could you answer this, please?

    I particularly appreciate and am aware of the barriers people can, unfortunately, experience in receiving help through the MH services :/ Hopefully, there are other resources! <3
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  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    That's right eating disorders can overlap so you may not fit perfectly into one category and sadly some people may experience different eating disorders at different points in their life.

    It can be hard to know where to go for eating disorder support and I appreciate there can be a lot of barriers stopping us from getting help. There are a few different options and the route you take might depend on the severity and type of eating disorder you are dealing with. You can find out all the different support options that are available in your area by searching your postcode on our helpfinder tool. This will show you any of our free Beat support services that are available, NHS treatment, support groups and private support.
    https://helpfinder.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/

    Another option to consider could be guided self help books. There are some suggestions of books on this page which contain excellent programmes and practical advice you can follow-https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/about-eating-disorders/downloads-resources/helpful-books/

    You can also find an amazing free guided self help work booklet on this page- https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/Resources/Looking-After-Yourself/Disordered-Eating

    Finally, I know you mentioned not being able to access mental health services. If this is because you are struggling to get a referral, it may be helpful to try going to the GP with our GP leaflet. This is a resources that can help you to get a quick and easy referral onto an eating disorder service as it explains the guidelines for referral https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/resource-index-page/gp-leaflet-first-steps/

    I hope this helps :3
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    This seems really helpful @BeatMegan and informative! Seems like there are lots of different types of resources people can access for support which is wonderful because different things work best for different people :)

    Bringing it back to the different types of eating disorders and difficulties, another one of our wonderful and brave community members has asked a question. Their question is "What is the best way of dealing with a binging episode?". Could you, please, help with this too? :)
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  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    Great question!

    For many people, the urge to binge eat can be overwhelming at times. Often binge eating can be a coping mechanism to deal with strong negative emotions. If you struggle with binging, try to remember this is not your fault and you deserve support with this! There are a couple of techniques that people find helpful to manage binge eating.

    Monitoring- firstly, just noticing what might be triggering a binging episode for you. Is it at a certain point in the day? Is it when you’re in a certain room? What emotions are you feeling when you get this urge? What thoughts are going through your head? Once you understand your triggers you can deal with them earlier on before leading to a binge

    Distraction techniques- try doing an activity that will keep your brain occupied. This could be watching TV, listening to music, talking to a friend. Some people find that things like craft and board games can help too as this will keep your mind and body busy! You can find more distraction techniques on this page https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/get-information-and-support/about-eating-disorders/downloads-resources/blast-distraction-techniques/

    If you have experienced a binging episode, we have some amazing advice on this page written by someone who has struggled with binge eating in the past. https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/your-stories/how-to-cope-post-binge/

    And finally, try to talk to someone, whether that’s a friend, family member or a helpline! Binging episodes can bring about a lot of feelings of guilt and shame but you are not alone and sometimes talking through these thoughts and feelings can help you to take back control. <3
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    Thank you, again, @BeatMegan. I can hear identifying the trigger for the binging episode(s) could be particularly useful for finding the best way to deal with binging episodes <3

    I recognise the value of lived experience too so thank you so much for sharing the link to the page written by someone who has struggled with binge eating in the past.

    You have provided some really insightful support and advice here. Just have one more question if that's ok.

    Another of our wonderful and brave community members has asked "I'm struggling to adjust being back home after spending some time in hospital, do you have any advice?".

    Could you please support this community member by providing advice and being as wonderful as you have with your other responses? (thank you again) :3

    Please note to our community members - We have about 10 minutes left, please don't hesitate to ask any additional questions you might have!
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  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 5,066 Part of The Furniture
    Hey @Morgan007. What a great question you have asked! Hopefully, the lovely @BeatMegan can answer your question :3
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  • BeatMeganBeatMegan Posts: 53 Expert
    @Morgan007 thank you for your question! Sometimes disordered eating can be triggered by other mental health issues. Some people start to control their eating when they feel they are loosing control of other areas of their life. Others start to loose interest in eating when they are struggling with their mental health or may turn to food as a coping mechanism. These are all completely normal responses but definitely something that you deserve support with!
    Senior Advisor at Beat Eating Disorders
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