Two new videos aim to raise awareness of the impact of eating disorders on those affected by the conditions and their carers.
The videos feature people from the Dorset area talking about their experiences of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa, and their recovery – alongside friends and family talking about how they were also affected.
They have been produced by Bournemouth University, Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust, and Dorset Healthwatch and aim to reduce stigma around talking about eating disorders, as well as give positive messages around recovery.
Sarah Clark, a final year BU Occupational Therapy student, and her husband Andy, who is studying Mental Health Nursing at BU, appear in the video. Sarah is currently in recovery from anorexia.
She said: “I think it is just about raising awareness of eating disorders and giving hope to people that it is possible to recover and lead a normal life and there are people who can support you through that process.
“It’s not just that one person who experiences it, everyone else in your family goes through it with you.”
Unveiled as part of Carers’ Week, the videos were launched at BU’s Talbot Campus to a packed audience of mental health professionals, service users and carers.
Among speakers at the event was Lorna Garner, Interim Chief Executive Officer of eating disorder charity Beat, who spoke about their work campaigning for better services and providing support - not just for people with eating disorders but also for their relatives and carers.
She said: “What is important about the two videos is that they demonstrate really clearly that you can’t look at somebody and say they have an eating disorder. These videos show that it’s all ages, all ethnicities, both genders, and it affects everybody quite deeply.
“But what they overridingly show is that recovery is possible, and recovery is only possible if you speak out and seek help and if people give that to you and support you.”
Research conducted at BU was also presented at the launch event; Dr Sarah Muir spoke about the work being undertaken into improving early intervention for people with eating disorders.
She said: “We hope we’ll get more people engaged in services a lot earlier, improving services attendance, helping people recover a lot quicker and generally improving awareness of eating disorders.”
Micki Bennet, Eating Disorders Community Services Manager at Dorset HealthCare, added: “Breaking down the stigmas often associated with eating disorders is vital and these films aim to contribute towards this mission. It has been a privilege to work alongside those involved and hear their stories – they are truly inspirational. I hope that in sharing their experiences it will encourage others to come forward who may be suffering in silence. Help is available and recovery is very much a reality, as these films show.”
The two videos – called Realising I have an eating disorder and Recovering from an eating disorder: hope, strength and life - are available to view on the Bournemouth University YouTube channel.
Dr James Palfreman-Kay, BU’s Equality and Diversity Advisor, coordinated the creation of the new videos and spoke at the event. He said, “For me it’s about putting into practice the university’s commitment to Time to Change and really wanting to show a positive approach to mental health. Today shows what we can achieve when we work together and it’s great to see so many people here.”
You can view the videos on BU’s You Tube channel.