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How to care for yourself as you're caring for others

For the first time, Beat are hosting a two-day conference designed especially for those who are directly caring for someone with an eating disorder in either a personal or professional capacity. Through Frontline, we hope to equip attendees with practical skills that will help them in their caring role.

But it isn’t only the person suffering from an eating disorder who needs support and compassion. Carers themselves need this too, not just for the sake of the person they’re caring for but for their own wellbeing as well. Carers can experience anxiety and low mood, a sense of not being able to provide the right care for the person they’re looking after, and a feeling that they must provide care alone and do not have support. In a survey carried out in 2014 by Carers UK, nearly half said that they did not feel society cares about them. Our own recently released research shows the impact of eating disorders on the family members of the sufferer to be enormous. It is essential that more is done to support carers directly in their role and in terms of their wellbeing as individuals.

A talk by Sam Clark-Stone, a mental health nurse and founder of the Gloucestershire Eating Disorders Service, addressed the needs of carers and provided things that carers can do to look after themselves at the same time as they’re looking after somebody else. His suggestions are based on both evidence-based guidance and his own observations following over 30 years of work in the field of eating disorders.

Every person who is caring for someone with an eating disorder will experience different circumstances, and there is no one suggestion that will suit absolutely everybody. But figuring out what works for you so that you can take care of your own wellbeing is both good for yourself and something that will put you in a better position to take care of somebody else.

Follow our updates from the Frontline conference on Twitter under #EDFrontline17