Eating Disorders Week Aims to Raise Awareness

Article excerpt

Byline: Zannah Lewis

Early warning signs of lifethreatening eating disorders are being highlighted during an awareness week in Birmingham.

Psychologists, therapists and counsellors have teamed up with the Eating Disorders Association and taken to the city's shopping centres to tell the public that early diagnosis saves lives.

It coincides with the release of a national report detailing the hidden financial costs of eating disorders to British society.

In the West Midlands 250 new cases are diagnosed each year out of a population of 5.2 million - and six people die from anorexia nervosa.

Duncan Campbell, occupational therapist at the Reed Clinic, a nationally regarded service with in-patient, day care and outpatient facilities, at the Queen Elizabeth psychiatric hospital, was behind the Birmingham bid to improve awareness.

He, along with lecturer practitioner Pam Virdi and staff nurse Dorothea Sekhonyana of the Reed Clinic, set up information stands in the Pavilion shopping centre, the Boots NHS walkin centre and the University of Central England to raise public awareness of this problem.

He said: 'Eating Disorders develop as outward signs of inner emotional or psychological distress or problems. They become the way that people cope with difficulties in their life.

'Unfortunately they also cause immense physical and psychological suffering, damaging lives throughout the UK and the world. They are also becoming more common.

'A myth about eating disorders is that it only affects middle-class girls. We treat a mixture of people from all ages and backgrounds.'

He said that by setting up stands in the heart of the city, people from all walks of life could be reached - especially those whose families might not recognise eating disorders as a problem.

Pam Virdi has campaigned for the past eight years for better awareness of eating disorder prevention. …