THIS EATING DISORDERS AWARENESS WEEK #LETSBEATTHIS
A staggering 1.25 million people in the UK are living with an eating disorder right now.
Eating disorders do not discriminate – they can affect anyone. For individuals who may be homeless and dealing with little to no income, food insecurity can be a monumental factor that contributes to the development of an eating disorder.
That’s why this Eating Disorders Awareness Week, from 2nd to 8th March, I wanted to share our experience of supporting a female resident who has bulimia and mixed anxiety and depressive disorder.
When people think about homelessness, eating disorders wouldn’t typically be something they consider. The stereotypes about who gets eating disorders can make it harder to identify those with a problem, including older people, males and ethnic and cultural minority groups. That is why, at Caritas Anchor House, we raise awareness to these crucial issues.
Eating disorders can affect anyone, of any age, gender of background. There are many different reasons that someone might develop an eating disorder, and many things that can be contributing factors. It’s important to remember that eating disorders are often not about food itself, and so support should address the underlying thoughts and feelings that cause the behaviour.
Bella* moved into Caritas Anchor House late last year and was struggling with a lot. Bella was not only transitioning out of homelessness, but also coming to terms with the fact that she had difficulty managing her emotions and a problem with her eating.
Bella and I worked together to establish the key areas she needed support with and the action plan we’d need to take. This included getting assessment by relevant healthcare services, and accessing counselling support from our partner Pandora Wellbeing. I also worked with Bella to identify key goals that she was able to work towards.
Six months into her stay at Caritas Anchor House, Bella has done exceptionally well in progressing with her recovery. She was assessed under secondary care services and is being referred for specialist care at St Ann’s Eating Disorders Clinic. Bella has also had over 12 sessions of psychotherapy via Pandora Wellbeing, which has really helped her manage her emotions.
Bella’s confidence has also grown as she is involved in our weekly cooking classes at Caritas Anchor House to help develop her daily living skills. This also helps her manage her thoughts around food and promotes healthy eating habits.
The East London NHS Foundation Trust are hoping to start a small early invention pre-diagnosis disordered eating service, and Bella will be speaking with their team there. She hopes that sharing her experiences of bulimia will help shape the design of the service to help others like her get the support they need.
Bella has also recently secured a volunteering position with a charity shop in East London, which she is really proud of accomplishing, and will support her to become work-ready. We are very proud of Bella and look forward to seeing her continued recovery. Bella said, ““…I can see myself having a future. So thank you again.”
If you or a loved one have an eating disorder, information and support services are available here. #LetsBeatThis
Elif – Mental Health Specialist