Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Why medical education is essential to support people with eating disorders
Eating disorders are serious and complex mental illnesses that affect around 1.25 million people in the UK. Each year for Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW), our team at Beat brings attention to a different issue affecting people with eating disorders and campaigns for widespread change.
This year we surveyed over 1,600 people across the UK who have or have had an eating disorder and asked them about their experiences with healthcare professionals.
We found that over two-thirds of survey respondents felt their GP didn’t know how to help them with their eating disorder. 92% of people said their GP would benefit from more training.
We know doctors across Scotland work hard to provide the best care for their patients, but they can’t do it without the training they need.
Beat asks each medical school to provide comprehensive training on eating disorders. This will give future GPs and future nurses all the knowledge and skills needed to help someone with an eating disorder.
Why is this campaign important?
We know that seeking help for an eating disorder can seem incredibly difficult. And the sooner a person accesses treatment for an eating disorder, the more likely they are to make a full recovery. This is why it is so important that people with eating disorders feel comfortable contacting doctors and that doctors know how to support them.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has had a huge impact on people with eating disorders, and we know that more people than ever before need eating disorder support. At Beat, we provided 150% more support sessions to people in Scotland between April 2020 and March 2021 compared to the previous year.
Thanks to our campaign, three out of four medical schools that offer 4and year of medical training and a foundation program in Scotland are now committed to providing quality training in eating disorders during their medical degrees.
Involving people affected by eating disorders
A big part of my role at Beat is to help people with personal experiences with eating disorders have their voices heard. Our Ambassadors speak regularly to community groups to raise awareness of eating disorders and meet with healthcare professionals so they can ask questions about what treatment really is for people in Scotland and how way of talking to someone about their illness. Our volunteers help drive incredible change across the country, and their continued passion and dedication to helping others is inspiring to behold.
Volunteers have also become involved in health policy. Earlier this year, the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) released a new guideline, which recommends the right treatment for anyone with an eating disorder. A Beat Ambassador was a member of the working group and our Ambassadors were also instrumental in developing the patient version of the guideline.
One area highlighted by the guideline is that everyone has a role to play in someone’s recovery, whether it’s a healthcare professional, teacher or loved one. It is crucial that quality education and counseling is available to increase understanding of eating disorders and to ensure that each person is quickly referred to the treatment they need.
Scottish Government support
During Eating Disorders Awareness Week, the Scottish Government announced it would provide £380,000 in additional funding to Beat. This incredible boost will fund our existing services in Scotland until the end of March 2023, meaning we can continue to reach more people affected by eating disorders and provide them with the support they need.
The funding will also be used to develop new services, including a carer referral service where NHS and Beat services will work together to ensure families and carers have easier access to support and training from current care professionals. primaries. We are very grateful for the support from the Scottish Government. As charitable sector experts in eating disorders, we also welcome the opportunity to work with other third sector, public and private sector organizations across the country.
How you can help
The passion of our supporters is so inspiring and we are always keen to hear from people who want to get involved. There are many opportunities to campaign for more medical education, such as signing an open letter to all medical schools in the UK. You can find out more about our Eating Disorder Awareness Week Page.
If you or your supporters have recovered from an eating disorder and want to tell your story, we offer fantastic volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Keep an eye on our website for current roles.
Emma Broadhurst is the National Officer for Scotland at Beat, the UK eating disorder charity Originally from Paisley, Emma has worked in the field of public health and health improvement for over 20 years.
About Beat: Beat is the UK eating disorder charity. We provide help for anyone affected by an eating disorder, including telephone helplines, online support groups and support for those awaiting specialist treatment.
If you are worried about your own or someone else’s health you can contact Beat, the UK eating disorder charity, 365 days a year on their Scottish helpline on 0808 801 0432 or via [email protected]