Monday’s BBC Panorama highlighted the issue of eating disorders among men and boys. Eating disorders are often stereotyped as illnesses that only women suffer from, when in fact we know that they can affect anyone of any gender. Estimates suggest a quarter of sufferers could be male, although the actual number may be even higher: eating disorders are often very difficult to talk about, and misconceptions about who can get them can make it even harder for people to recognise and seek help for their illness.
The men and boys who bravely spoke about their experiences with eating disorders on Monday evening, including rugby referee Nigel Owens, who narrated the episode, are far from alone. We know there are a lot of male sufferers out there who may struggle to access treatment and support. The programme stressed the importance of seeking help as quickly as possible, and showed the devastating consequences of receiving no or inadequate treatment.
We need to make sure everyone that needs treatment is able to access it as quickly as possible. We are urging the Government to uphold existing access and waiting times targets and to put them in place where needed. But for everyone to be able to take the first step towards getting help, we must also see greater awareness around eating disorders, and at Beat we’re pleased to see Panorama address this important issue.
If you need support right now, no matter what stage you’re at in your recovery, you can call Beat’s Helpline for free on 0808 801 0677 every day, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a response within 24 hours. If you’re thinking about approaching your GP, which we encourage you to do, you can also download our First Steps leaflet to take along with you.
If you’ve been affected by an eating disorder and would like to raise awareness in the media, why not consider becoming a media volunteer with Beat? Find out more here.