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  • Top picks: Eight resources on eating disorders

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    Eating Disorder Awareness Week takes place 27 February - 5 March 2023

    Eating disorders are complex mental health conditions that affect an estimated 1.25 million people in the UK. There are many unhelpful myths about who eating disorders affect, what the symptoms are and how to support people in recovery. Alongside a current lack of appropriately trained staff and capacity in mental health services, this can make it challenging for people with eating disorders to access the help and support they need.

    Patient Safety Learning has pulled together eight useful resources shared on the hub to help healthcare professionals, friends and family support people with eating disorders. They include awareness-raising articles, practical tips for patients and their loved ones, and clinical guidance for primary, secondary and mental health providers.


    1. People with eating disorders should not face stigma in the health system and barriers to 1 accessing support in 2022 - a blog by Hope Virgo

    People with eating disorders often find it difficult to get help and treatment from the health system because of pervasive stigma, misinformation and stereotypes around eating disorders. This blog by eating disorder survivor and mental health campaigner, Hope Virgo, looks at the barriers people face when they try to access support for eating disorders in the UK. She talks about her own experience of being told she was ‘not thin enough for support’ and calls for long-overdue action on funding, training and awareness of eating disorders within the NHS.

    2. Leaflet - Seeking treatment for an eating disorder

    If someone suspects they may have an eating disorder, their first step in getting treatment is often a visit to their GP. This leaflet contains guidance for people who have, or suspect they may have, an eating disorder, as well as information for GPs and other people who may be supporting them. It’s based on the guideline on eating disorders from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which GPs should use when making decisions about patients’ healthcare.

    3. Freddie Flintoff: Living with bulimia

    Eating disorders are often seen as an illness that affects young women, but experts estimate that one in four people with eating disorders are male. As a result, boys and men with eating disorders most often live in silence with the double stigma of having a mental health condition that is not recognised in their gender. In this BBC documentary, former England cricketer and TV presenter Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff goes on a personal journey into the eating disorder he has kept secret for over 20 years – bulimia. He discusses his own experience and meets specialists and young men with eating disorders across the UK.

    4. SAPHNA - Eating disorder toolkit

    This toolkit was co-produced by the School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA) with school nursing services, mental health campaigners, eating disorder experts, education colleagues and young people with lived-experience of eating disorders. It provides information and guidance for school nurses on how to identify and support students with eating disorders and their families, addressing issues such as consent, confidentiality and referral to specialist services.

    5. Tips poster: First signs of symptoms of an eating disorder

    When someone has an eating disorder, getting early support and treatment can make a huge difference to their recovery. That’s why it's important that everyone can spot the first signs and symptoms of an eating disorder. This poster by the charity Beat Eating Disorders offers tips to help you spot the very first signs of an eating disorder.

    6. Myths about eating disorders (HealthTalk.org)

    This webpage highlights young people with eating disorders talking about how they often come up against misunderstandings about the illness from their family and friends, the media and healthcare professionals. They describe how incorrect ideas about what eating disorders are can make their experience of living with an eating disorder worse.

    7. Eating disorders: a guide for friends and family

    This booklet from Beat Eating Disorders is for anyone supporting someone with an eating disorder. It covers information about eating disorders and treatment, and offers guidance on how you might approach the subject if you’re worried about someone you know and how to support them after diagnosis, as well as looking after yourself.

    8. Medical emergencies in eating disorders: Guidance on recognition and management

    People with eating disorders can reach a crisis point where their condition becomes a medical emergency resulting in serious harm or even death. This guidance from the Royal College of Psychiatrists makes a series of recommendations for primary care, secondary care and mental health services that aim to make preventable deaths due to eating disorders a thing of the past. There are specific recommendations focused on the needs of children with eating disorders, recognising the physiological differences between adults and children.

    Have your say

    • Are you a healthcare professional who works with people with eating disorders? We would love to hear your insights and share resources you have developed.
    • Perhaps you have received treatment for an eating disorder—what was your experience of healthcare services?

    We would love to hear from you! 

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