Did you know that next week 22nd – 29th Feb is Eating Disorders Awareness Week? Perhaps you already feel bombarded by news bulletins about the rising incidence of EDs… or how these days younger and younger people are affected. So why the need to be made more aware of EDs?
At Student Health we have good reasons to want to raise awareness of EDs:
• Eating disorders are not rare and exotic illnesses. They are common in the UK population, particularly so in adolescence and early adult years, and particularly so in student populations.
• They have a profound effect upon mental health, eroding well being and self esteem, so that nothing the sufferer does is ever good enough.
• They have serious physical effects on pretty much every biological system of the body such as skin and dental damage, gastrointestinal and heart problems, bone marrow and liver damage, hormone suppression and hastening the onset of osteoporosis. In fact, EDs lead to greater mortality than any other group of mental illnesses.
• Living with an ED can make life very hard indeed… friendships and social activities are deprioritised, leading to people feeling more and more isolated, anxious and depressed.
• Concentration and stamina can be much affected, so the sufferer cannot perform physically and academically to her/his potential
• Family and friends often don’t know what to say, or worry they will cause upset or have their head bitten off if they express their concern
• Some of our patients at Student Health get so unwell that they need to take time out from university. For those such as medics, vets and dentists whose degrees lead on to accreditation with a national professional body, their ED may make them unfit to practice as a registered professional.
ED Awareness week may provide an opportunity to break the taboo that surrounds EDs.
You may feel able to bring up this sensitive topic with that friend you’ve been worrying about, but who seems always to want to keep herself to herself. It is likely that doing so will help her… even if she seems not to appreciate it at the time.
If you have severe eating and weight anxieties yourself, this week may be the time to tell someone a bit about it, allow a friend to support you, maybe even seek help from your doctor. All the staff at Student Health are experienced in helping people with EDs, and in Bristol we have good services to treat eating disorders, including the First Step service which offers psychological treatments in our very own Health Centre
We are here to help YOU!