The UK’s leading eating disorder charity has seen demand rocket by more than 70% through lockdown.
Beat, which helps thousands of people nationwide, said it had seen a 72% increase in contact across all Helpline channels in June this year compared to February.
Within the same time frame the organisation had also recorded a 96% increase in online support group attendance, and a staggering 229% increase in social media contact.
For people with eating disorders, a sudden change in routine – such as those sparked by the coronavirus pandemic – can trigger devastating setbacks in their recovery, Beat says.
Among callers’ concerns are fears of not being not being able to carry out normal routines; being unable to access safe foods due to stockpiling and shopping restrictions; having to visit shops out of their comfort zone; worries about binge eating if they or someone they live with is stockpiling; and not being able to exercise if they need to self-isolate.
Katie Scott, 22, is in recovery from anorexia and was seven weeks into attending a daily clinic when lockdown came into effect.
Suddenly the 11 hours a day, five days a week she had spent at the centre were left empty, and the meal support and motivation sessions she had based almost two months around were replaced with a small booklet of advice.
“We’ve gone from having almost constant support to really not a lot at all,” Katie explained. “It was very, very sudden – obviously we knew that coronavirus was around and we might have to go into lockdown but I think most of us thought that because it was a medical facility then the rules might be different.
“So it wasn’t until the 23rd [of March] when they suddenly said: ‘Oh my god, this is the last day – we have to close.’ And that was it, we got sent home with a short booklet on how to manage through lockdown. Even then we thought it might only be six weeks.
“It’s been really difficult – I do some online sessions for meal support and...