Eating disorders affect one in 50 people in the UK, with around 1.25 million people struggling from illnesses including bulimia, anorexia, binge eating and avoid food intake disorder (AFID).
These illnesses can have devastating effects on the quality of life of those suffering and their loved ones. Indeed, anorexia alone has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. With the right treatment and support, however, recovery is possible.
Run by the charity Beat, Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW) is an opportunity to put eating disorders in the spotlight. Every year the charity campaigns for those affected and raises funds to go towards the vital support services it offers.
This year, EDAW is focusing on improving the education of healthcare professionals in how to support those suffering from eating disorders. The focus is particularly on GPs who patients will rely on to spot early warning signs of an eating disorder that may have nothing to do with weight and appearance.
Despite this responsibility, most GPs receive less than two hours of training on eating disorders in their entire medical degree and a fifth of UK medical schools don’t provide any training at all, says Beat.
This lack of education has delayed access to treatment and led to misdiagnosis of eating disorders for years, they add. The consequences for people living with these mental illnesses can be devastating and, in some cases, deadly.
That’s why Beat is calling for all UK medical schools and foundation programmes to introduce proper training on eating disorders.
Visit the Beat website for more information.
Pharmacy teams can get involved in three ways
- Speak up – encourage customers to share positive/negative experiences with GPs to help showcase the difference knowledge, understanding and compassion can make for someone who is suffering – share your campaign efforts on social media to appeal to a wider audience.
- Step up – fundraise in the pharmacy through awareness campaigns, charity days or donation boxes to help amplify the call for proper training
- Skill up – pharmacy teams can research ways to improve their education about eating disorders so that they can provide better support for patients and recognise the all-important warning signs.