Investment and Access – World Mental Health Day and a Spotlight on Eating Disorders
Today, Saturday 10th October, marks World Mental Health Day.
It’s an annual opportunity to promote mental health advocacy, applaud achievements in the arena, and place a focus on the challenges and issues which still exist.
This year, as we mark the day in the midst of a global pandemic, we’re asked to consider a very particular theme:
“Mental Health For All – Greater Investment, Greater Access”.
As an organisation so mindful that investment and access remain significant factors in how eating disorder treatment pathways are (or are not) experienced up and down the country, this theme feels really relevant to us.
Time and again, we hear from parents, sufferers, and even from healthcare professionals, who state how frustrated they feel that eating disorders appear to be something of a ‘poor relation’ in the pecking order of mental health.
To them, it feels as if central and local government lack the desire to invest in appropriate support for those desperate to overcome their illness.
Unsurprisingly, that feels all the more uncomfortable for families and carers who in recent months have heard again and again about the intended commitment by the government to ‘tackle obesity’ and to introduce very broad and intensive measures across schools and society as a whole.
No doubt such tactics will incur considerable costs…..so where then, sits the financial investment into supporting those at risk of, or already facing, the mental health issue which claims more lives than any other psychiatric illness?
And from investment, we move to access.
Again, access is undoubtedly an area of frustration, anxiety, distress and fury, among so many who have sought help for an eating disorder.
Where you live, matters.
What you weigh, matters.
What age you are, matters.
Whether you appear to be maintaining a ‘functioning’ life, matters.
And whether you shout louder than the person next to you in the queue for help….well that matters too.
Access should not be more of an obstacle because of your postcode or your BMI, or the fact that you’re over 19. Or indeed, because you’ve got a career, or become a mother, or are experiencing anorexia for the first time as a 71 year old grandfather.
Access has to be a priority consideration, and we can’t continue to blindly assume that the door will automatically open to us when we are in deep distress from an eating disorder….even if it should.
Of course, tackling investment and access in the realms of eating disorders, isn’t something for which any one of us can grant the overnight fix.
It’s not a ‘flick of a button’, a singular letter to the Prime Minister, or even the writing of one monetary cheque.
And yet, there is much which we can do….collectively.
Today’s World Mental Health Day reminds us all that it is absolutely imperative we keep talking about the experiences, issues, struggles, solutions, triumphs and tears which sufferers and survivors the world over are living day in day out.
Together, we amplify the volume on the important topics.
Together, we’ll remind more people that eating disorders are real, and in need of attention and support.
Together, we’ll change stigma and lazy assumptions.
Together, and step by step by step, we’ll increase the investment and the access – if we tirelessly commit to continuing to speak out about the illness, and sharing the stories about ourselves and our loved ones.
Today, please give voice to your experiences, and to your relentless commitment to help others who are battling an eating disorder.
Collective empathy and determination will help us achieve change.
Let’s unite in this message – today, and always.
- Oct 2020