This week, Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, has launched a brand new 365 day a year Helpline for anyone affected by an eating disorder. The launch also sees the service change to a freephone number, removing barriers for anyone wishing to make a call to the charity’s core service. The Helpline is based in Warrington and provides a service to the whole of the UK.
Caroline Price, Beat’s Director of Services, said of the launch, “We are excited about the launch of our 365 day a year freephone Helpline service and we’ve already seen the lines and emails buzzing with activity.
“Often, Beat’s Helplines are the first port of call for someone worried about themselves or someone they know. Every year Beat hears from thousands of people looking for support and reassurance and this new service will enable us to support even more people than ever before.
“The decision to move to a freephone number is a really important one. We hope to encourage even more people than ever before to reach out to the Helpline, particularly young people, as in the past a major obstacle could have been having to pay for the call or seeing our number appear on their itemised bill.”
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses which can have devastating consequences. Anorexia will claim more lives than any other mental illness. Beat encourages anyone worried about themselves or someone they know to see their GP at the earliest opportunity and press for a referral to specialist services. The sooner someone gets the treatment they need the more likely a sustained recovery.
“The first few days of calls have been inspirational,” said Alison, Helpline Advisor at Beat. “We take a range of calls, from family members worried about their loved ones, to teachers, colleagues and those experiencing an eating disorder themselves.
“Calls can be complex and varied, and the later opening hours of the Helpline means that we are expecting more calls from people in crisis. This week we have already spoken to a young lady who we were worried was at risk. We were able to arrange for the emergency services to go out to see her and encourage her to find help and support from mental health services. What was most heartening was an email of thanks we received from her later in the week. Working on a Helpline can be emotionally challenging, as this example highlights, but knowing the difference we make, sometimes by simply listening, provides us with a tremendous sense of reward and purpose.”
The opening comes just in time for Eating Disorders Awareness Week, beginning 27 February, where the charity will launch a new campaign to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders and new materials to help anyone visiting their GP receive a positive outcome from their appointment. Beat will encourage supporters to don their silly socks on Friday 3 March in their fundraising campaign ‘Sock It to Eating Disorders’.
For more information about Beat visit their website www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk. If you’re worried about yourself or someone you know call or their Helplines on 0808 801 0677, firstname.lastname@example.org (adult line) or 0808 801 0711, email@example.com (Youthline).
The photograph above shows workers at the new Beat Helpline in Warrington taking calls.