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Early intervention

Realising that you or someone you know might have an eating disorder can be frightening. But eating disorders, while serious, are treatable, and it is very possible to make a full and sustained recovery.

The earlier in the course of the illness someone is able to access treatment, the better their chance of fully recovering, whether they are beginning to develop an eating disorder, have had one for some time, or are experiencing a relapse. We have resources and advice to support you in getting help for an eating disorder as quickly as possible.

Resources and advice

Our support services

Support for someone else


The first step is making an appointment with primary healthcare services – usually a general practitioner (GP). The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) for Scotland have guidelines on the treatment of eating disorders, and these are clear that the GP should refer anyone they think may have one to a specialist for further assessment or treatment immediately. Our “First Steps” guide is free to download from our resources library and designed for you to take along to the GP with you to help you get this referral.

If you’re struggling to get a referral or find yourself on a waiting list, please don’t feel as though this means you don’t deserve help – you do. If your GP won’t refer you, you still have a number of options:

It’s always okay to ask at your surgery if you can see a different GP instead.

You can search our HelpFinder for support and treatment services in your area.

Many eating disorder and mental health services accept self-referrals.

Our Helplines are open every day.

Beat runs an online support group every evening – find out further details.

We know that getting treatment early can make a really positive difference in someone’s recovery, which is why early treatment is a key part of our strategy. You can read more about our strategy for early intervention here.