Caring for someone with an eating disorder
725,000 people in the UK have a diagnosed eating disorder, though it is difficult to put an accurate figure on how many people are affected as some people don't have a diagnosis or haven't sought help. With this in mind, it follows that there are a significant number of people who care for a loved with an eating disorder, whether it be a partner, family member, friend or child.
The NHS Choices website has information about eating disorders including the different types of disorders, how to spot an eating disorder in others and what treatment is available. They also have advice about supporting someone with an eating disorder.
If your family member/friend hasn't yet sought helping for their eating disorder, the first port of call would be their GP.
Support for carers
Caring for a loved one with an eating disorder can be a very difficult role, and very often the impact this can have on you is overlooked. It is really important that as a carer you take time to look after yourself.
Make sure you find out about the support available to you as an unpaid carer. The where to start section will give you information on things such as carers assessments, welfare benefits and getting advice.
Caring for a someone with an eating disorder can often feel very frustrating, and can be an overwhelming experience for families and friends to go through. It is possible you will face very challenging times whilst your loved one is making their journey towards recovery. It is important for you to remember that the journey may not be straight forward and there may be times when you feel as though there is no way out, or as though you have been here before. Perseverance and persistence is very often key, as recovery takes time.
During these difficult times, you should ensure that you too have someone or somewhere to turn to, whether it be a friend you can confide in or you seek help from professionals.
It often helps to get support from people in a similar situation. There are a variety of online forums for carers as well as advice lines offering practical help and counselling.
First Steps Derbyshire
First Steps is Derbyshire’s only eating disorder charity who support carers, parents, friends, family and individuals with an eating disorder through a variety of different ways.
Support Options Available From First Steps
- Skills for Carers Workshops – These sessions run periodically throughout the year, in eight week blocks. They focus on developing a skill set to be able to support someone with an eating disorder. In order to participate in the sessions, pre booking is required and carers must commit to attending all sessions. More information can be found on the First Steps website.
- Support Groups – Support groups run on a fortnightly basis. The groups last for 2 hours, with the first hour being topic led and the second hour providing an opportunity to socialise. The groups are a safe space to talk and share experiences. The groups are open to carers, family members, friends and sufferers who are above the age of 19. Booking is not usually required to attend groups, unless a guest facilitator is running the session. The schedule and topic for each group can be found on the First Steps calendar.
- Online befriending – First Steps offers the opportunity for carers to engage in online befriending. This support is email based and involves being matched with a fully trained volunteer, many who have experienced eating disorders or supported a loved one themselves.
You contact First Steps by:
tel: 01332 367571
Please note that First Steps are not a clinical service.
B-eat is a national charity that offers support and information for people with an eating disorder and their carers.
They have a helpline offering support and advice that is open 365 days a year from 4pm until 10pm on tel: 0808 801 0677
They also have online message boards where you can ask for advice from people in a similar situation and read about other people's experiences.
B-eat also have an online support group for carers called Blue Jay that is open every Monday from 5pm to 7.30pm.
Other helpful websites
- B-eat - caring for a young person with an eating disorder
- National Centre for Eating Disorders
- Mind - eating problems
- First Steps - advice on NHS treatment options
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