stethoscope on medical chart
Mental health

Eating Disorders Awareness Week—Who Are The Experts?

Many of you know I’ve worked as a doctor in the NHS. Does this give me the authority to talk as an expert on all things medical?! It’s strange that the title of doctor seems to give more weight to what someone says.

If you were at a conference and wanted to know more about eating disorders, would you choose to go to a talk by an expert-by-experience or a doctor?

3 medical students

For most, medical school is between 5 and 7 years long. Maybe that sounds like a long time, maybe not but there’s a heck of a lot to cram into the time. So, how long do you think trainee doctors spend learning about the biggest mental health killer? The illness that kills 1 person every single week in the UK alone?

Less than 2 hours… on average—and 1/5th medical schools don’t provide any training at all on eating disorders!

So, the first person someone goes to when they might be struggling with an eating disorder might know nothing about eating disorders!

When I first approached my GP as a teen, I was told “things weren’t that bad” and I didn’t receive any support. Even through my time in various mental health services, psychiatrists’ understanding of eating disorders was shockingly poor. I had so many of the clichés said to me. These included “why don’t you just try and eat something” to “we’ll let you use the gym if you eat something” when I was on general wards. It was only when I received specialist help that the approach was different.

While I call myself an expert-by-experience, I’m acutely aware that my experience is just one perspective. I’ve carried out extensive research to ensure I’m able to present different perspectives. I understand as much as I can about the subject because I have the personal connection and feel incredibly passionate about it.

studying graphs

I write to raise awareness of issues I know are important. You come back and read my articles because you know I’ve either lived through it and/or I know someone who’s living/lived through it and I back it up with research.

Research has found that our doctors have too little training. This means that patients are being misunderstood, misdiagnosed, left undiagnosed, left untreated and left unsupported for far too long (and this can be fatal).

This Eating Disorders Awareness Week (2022) Beat are campaigning for doctors to receive comprehensive eating disorders training.

Check out how you can get involved here.

Check out more blogs about eating disorders here.

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