Eating Disorder Awareness Week runs at Bournemouth University
11 March 2013
A series of events were run at BU to raise awareness of eating disorders and the support available at the university and in the local area.
The week of events ran during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and included sessions on the recognition of eating disorders and the impact it might have on individuals, the role of the internet and the local services available to provide support.
There was also a poster presentation of research being done by BU Psychology students into eating disorders, and sessions run by Jess Griffiths, director of local eating disorder charity I*EAT.
Jess, who herself has had an eating disorder, started the charity at Bournemouth University, running a weekly support group on campus before receiving external funding and moving elsewhere.
She said: "I ended up agreeing to run a drop in for an hour a month at Talbot Medical Centre [on BU's Talbot Campus] and put a poster onto the back of toilet doors just to see what would happen.
"I think I also just knew that my experience was never going to be wasted, I kind of knew that once I had recovered I was going to use the experience for good and to help others."
She added: "After this week, we are launching a drop in service for an hour in the Chaplaincy on campus so that we will see more students coming forward. It is the best way for students to get in contact and then we can refer them to GPs and get them some professional support."
There is now also a weekly clinic at the GP surgery on Talbot Campus, run by Micki Bennett, a clinical specialist nurse in eating disorders, who sees students who present to the GPs there displaying symptoms of eating disorders.
Micki said the clinic was important in providing an easily accessible and unobtrusive place for students to get additional support and monitoring for eating disorders, but also to increase awareness of the conditions among GPs.
She said: "Staff from the GP surgery can come to me and say 'I have just seen someone and I'm a bit worried.'
"There is a much more informal communication, which has heightened the awareness of what is going on.
"If there is somebody who isn't motivated to come and get help, the doctors and nurses can talk to me and I can help treat them by proxy almost."
Another session run as part of the week heard from Alice Jackson, who recovered from her exercise addiction and received treatment and support for her eating disorder whilst studying at BU.
She said that it can be hard to spot if a friend or housemate has an eating disorder, adding that if people are concerned they should look for changes in habit.
"When you have anorexia you are not eating normally and you don't really want to socialise in terms of how you are eating. It is noticeable but not in some ways so it depends on what your accommodation is like.
"I had a room with a bathroom and the only things I ate were things I could do in my room. It is difficult to spot but if someone is not engaging in food and are eating things that are very different."
The programme of events was run and supported by a number of organisations including charity I*EAT, Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust and organisations and services at BU - including the Students' Union, Equality and Diversity service and the Psychology group within the School of Design, Engineering and Computing.
Dr James Palfreman-Kay, Equality and Diversity Adviser at Bournemouth University, said: "The events have been attended by more than 250 people, including schools, parents, students and academics.
"It shows that we are putting partnership into practice, with the collaboration between Dorset Healthcare, BU and I*EAT."
I*EAT will be launching a drop in clinic at the chaplaincy service, in Talbot House on Talbot Campus, from 3-4pm every Monday.
Anybody who is concerned about themselves or a relative or friend with an eating disorder is welcome to pop in. For more information about the charity and the support they offer visit www.i-eat.org.uk.
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