Eating Disorders Awareness Week 11th Feb 2013

Student-Run-Self-Help (SRSH) is a national charity that aims to support students suffering from eating disorders by providing a safe space for students to talk within student-run group sessions. We are driven by young people’s personal experiences of living with mental health issues and aim to provide a confidential, non-judgmental, welcoming environment for those who need support.

“I know I owe my recovery to having amazing people to talk to, people who really understood. Through SRSH my ambition is to ensure that all students have someone to talk to, someone who understands!” (Nicola Byrom, the founding director of SRSH)

In Bristol, we run sessions every alternate Monday in the Just Ask office on the 4th floor of the Student Union from 6.30-7.30pm. We welcome both sufferers and their friends/family. We bring together people who understand each other’s problems and although we know it can be difficult to talk, in a group setting everyone is there to help each other on the road to recovery.

Eating disorder awareness week is the 11-15th February and we feel this is a great opportunity to try and increase students understanding of what an eating disorder is, and what they may be able to do to help friends who may be suffering. This quote provided by a student recovering from an eating disorder simply re-enforces how important it is to talk.

‘ After years of treatment, medication and therapy, the one thing that actually enabled me to overcome this isolating, life-destroying illness, was talking to friends and family. When I started to let others in and shared every little step I made, it made the long road seem much shorter, easier almost, and certainly there was no turning back. There are people out there, lots of them willing to help, and the SRSH team are some of them, and if you are prepared to accept it, recovery is possible.’

We will be running a campaign called “Something Worth Talking About” in the foyer of the Students’ Health Service, Hampton House, on Monday 11th February where people will have the opportunity to learn more about the facts and fiction of eating disorders through various interactive activities.

There will also be a “How to Save a Life” workshop on 21st February at 5.30pm (Venue: MR6 Large, in the Students’ Union) for friends of sufferers. This workshop provides support and invaluable advice for the friends of sufferers. SRSH ran one last term, and with the feedback from attendees, decided it was so successful that it would be repeated.

Although the SRSH team provide a space for sufferers to talk, they are not professionals, and students are encouraged to seek care and advice from the University of Bristol’s Students’ Health Service and Student Counselling.

For more information on the national charity visit:

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Eating Your Heart Out

Many of us eat chocolate when we want a treat, or when we’re having a bad day – and where’s the harm in that? 


We don’t just eat for health; the fact is eating is one of life’s pleasures.  There’s no reason why we shouldn’t enjoy food or use it now and then to lift our spirits: as the saying goes, “all things in moderation.” The difficulty comes when comfort eating becomes our main way of dealing with upset. 


Comfort eating provides a distraction from difficult thoughts and negative emotions but when it’s our only way of coping it can easily get out of hand: a bar of chocolate or a slice of toast can be the trigger for a full on binge.  Many people who overeat like this say that whilst they’re bingeing everything else seems to stop: they feel in a world of their own where difficult thoughts and feelings can’t touch them.  It’s only afterwards that the distress returns, only when it does it’s made worse by uncomfortable bloating, concerns about weight gain, frustration, guilt and shame. 


Such negative feelings in the aftermath of a binge can erode self esteem and increase vulnerability to future stresses and from here it’s easy to see how a vicious cycle can develop: upset leading to binge eating and binge eating leading to greater vulnerability to future upset so making binge eating ever more likely.  Many specialists see such vicious cycles as being at the heart of eating disorders.


There’s no harm in eating for comfort now and then, but if you find yourself trapped in the vicious cycle then it can be useful to know that there are ways of breaking out.  Whilst many people can break out on their own and with the support of friends and family, some people will need professional help. 


If you are struggling to manage disordered eating then perhaps the Student’s Health Service can help.  The Service offers specialist support for people with eating disorders and many students have used it to turn their lives around.  If you think you might need specialist help then the first step is a visit to your doctor.  Whilst it can be embarrassing to talk about such problems, all our doctors are fully trained and highly experienced in working with people battling eating disorders.   they may refer you to the practice’s psychologist or on to a more specialised doctor. There’s no shame in seeking help: rest assured you’ll be treated in confidence, with respect and sensitivity.