Eating Disorder Awareness Week – Helping To Smash Stigmas And Separate Fact From Fiction

22nd February 2019

Monday 25th February marks the beginning of Eating Disorder Week 2019. In our blog this week Deborah McCready from Action Mental Health is taking the opportunity to talk about their eating disorder service everyBODY, which takes a range of approaches to tackling eating disorders…

Next week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week – an international week devised to fight the myths and misunderstanding that surrounds anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) – a term used to describe disorders that are similar to, but not exclusively characteristic of anorexia or bulimia, and importantly to instil hope and promote the available support.

The main theme this year is ‘Why Wait?’ – due to the alarming fact that, on average, 149 weeks pass before people experiencing eating disorder symptoms seek help.

That’s almost three years or 1,043 days.

That’s too long to wait for anyone, especially in light of statistics which show that eating disorders claim more lives than any other mental illness – one in five of the most seriously affected die prematurely from the physical consequences or by suicide.

That’s why, in 2018, Action Mental Health launched its new model of service AMH everyBODY in partnership with the Southern Health & Social Care Trust. EveryBODY now offers a new model of service in partnership with the Southern Health & Social Care Trust. 

Our everyBODY programme takes a preventative, interventionist and postvention approach; 

  • We target the general public with awareness-raising sessions to equip people with the knowledge and skills necessary to self-support or seek help.
  • We support people affected by eating disorders, including family members and friends, at a Carers’ Group monthly meeting, to help aid their recovery.
  • We develop effective partnerships to ensure comprehensive, progressive support of people on their journey.

The everyBODY programme exists to bridge the gap on the client’s journey from the moment they seek help until they get to speak to a medical expert, as with current waiting lists this can be some time.

When people take that important step and are willing to engage and seek help, AMH everyBODY offers a recovery approach in sessions when people will receive information and support to develop skills, stay focused and healthy until they see a therapist. Prior to appointments people can feel unsupported and alone.  Contact with AMH everyBODY at this time will help people support themselves and get the best from their therapist when they meet.

In light of the alarming suicide rate linked to eating disorders, AMH everyBODY promotes a greater understanding and awareness of these conditions. It promotes positive lifestyle choices, about eating to develop preventative and self-supporting skills. It also exists to help break the associated stigma – including unhelpful assumptions that it is attention-seeking behaviour or fad dieting that stops people seeking the support they need: in short, having an eating disorder is a serious mental health condition.

Eating disorders affect over 700,000 people in the UK at any one time, with research suggesting that this figure is vastly underestimated. It is thought some 80% of individuals who screen positively for having an eating disorder have never accessed help or support.  One of the most harmful symptoms of an eating disorder is silence – AMH everyBODY encourages people affected to speak out for support and know that a listening, understanding and confidential ear will be there to provide support towards recovery.

To find out more about the everyBODY programme or learn more about the services that Action Mental Health provides, you can visit our website on: or call us on: 028 38 392314.