Comedian Campaigns for Mental Health Guidelines


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The Independent Online

Dave Chawner is a 26-year-old comedian, and uses his comedy “to make mental health for males more palatable” as he recovers from a 9 year battle with Anorexia.

Dave uses his shows to remove the stigma of eating disorders, explaining: “I’ve been anorexic for years, everyone needs a hobby”. He says: “You see me, I’m not butch or tough, I don’t even have a strong bladder” and “I don’t have a very high sex drive, the only thing I toss is salad”. 

Aside from his comedy, Dave works with various charities. His most recent venture involves work as a BEAT spokesman to change the NICE Guidelines (National Institute for Health Care Excellence). He is also campaigning for less use in BMI's within the screening process for eating disorders as “this is incredibly damaging for patients”.

Dave says: “The NICE Guidelines were written in January 2004 and need updating.”  They state 'target groups for screening should include young women with low body mass'. “This is not only sexist (against men with eating disorders), but also tells patients they will need to get worse before they get better”.

The recovering anorexic believes the disease is “incredibly competitive: what I lose in weight, I also lose in nectar points”. He thinks that if patients are given NICE guideline targets to work towards, it will push them to deteriorate their health. He says: “It also acts as a barrier for those too scared to accept they have a problem.”

In recent years Dave has worked for and represented charities BEAT, ‘Men Get Eating Disorders Too’, CALM, and Mind, creating awareness and raising money.

As a comedian, Dave hosts regular free gigs to remove the stigma surrounding eating disorders and mental health, whilst spreading a positive message. “I hope the future for men will become easier, and I hope that the work I do will help to fight this too.”

In February, Dave spoke at Tedx Clapham. You can watch his talk here.