Deman for Beat’s helpline services has increased by 97% since last year, the eating disorder charity reports.
The charity says the pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on those affected by an eating disorder, with 28% of people reaching out to the helpline between May and July 2020.
Common concerns range from not being able to access safe foods or shops to reduced access to treatment, worries around the lifting of lockdown and confusion around new regulations.
Hannah, a Helpline team member, said: ‘During lockdown, a common feeling which came up again and again during the calls I took was one of desperation: from the inability to find foods they needed to the prospect of being cooped up in one space without their usual coping mechanisms.
‘However, I also saw that the support groups became places many people returned to, and still do. I am in awe of the bravery, openness, and honesty of those using the groups, who were able to get so much from them whilst also holding each other up through such a difficult time.’
A spokesman for Beat said the charity has increased its service provision to respond to this huge demand, including coronavirus support group The Sanctuary, and is now further expanding with a new range of free, UK-wide support services. These include:
Caroline Price, Beat’s Director of Services, said:’These past few months have been devastating for many people affected by eating disorders.
‘They have had to adjust to extreme changes to their treatment arrangements, and for many, a severely reduced support network.
‘Most worryingly, we are hearing from more and more people coming forward for the first time because of coronavirus, either from relapsing or realising they have become unwell.
‘We would like to reassure anyone affected that we are here no matter what stage they are at, from feeling concerned about their health for the first time to coping with new challenges in recovery.
‘Whilst we diverted our efforts to frontline services during lockdown, like so many other charities we had to prepare for a drop in income. These new services will allow us to support so many more people at such a critical time, and we are extremely grateful for the Lottery’s extra investment.’
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