Coronavirus: Eating disorder helpline has seen calls rise 30% during outbreak

'Eating disorders thrive in isolation,' says Beat’s director of services Caroline Price

Sophie Gallagher
Thursday 19 March 2020 18:59 GMT

An eating disorder charity has seen a 30 per cent spike in the number of calls to its helpline in the past week of the coronavirus outbreak.

The charity, Beat, says every single contact has made reference to the coronavirus pandemic as a cause for concern around their ongoing eating disorder.

Beat says this is as a result of the NHS shifting priorities to frontline operations in a bid to deal with the growing numbers of cases in the UK.

This means that many outpatient services have shifted to telephone or video appointments – this has also happened as a precautionary measure to maintain social distancing.

In addition, some services have already announced that they will be postponing or cancelling non-urgent appointments.

“Eating disorders thrive in isolation,” says Beat’s director of services Caroline Price. “It is more important than ever that those with eating disorders feel supported as they cope with changes in routines, living situations and care plans – all of which have the potential to be incredibly triggering.

“It is not surprising that we have seen such a large increase in contact, but we are prepared to support anyone unwell and in need of help at this time.”

The charity has set up an online support group, The Sanctuary, as a way for anyone with concerns to keep in contact while day-to-day eating disorder services are disrupted.

“We are so grateful to our supporters for helping us continue to assist those affected, especially during this uncertain time,” says Price.

The charity also released new practical advice about coping mechanisms: they include planning to eat meals with a loved one via video chat if face-to-face company isn’t possible and creating a detailed timetable of daily activities with plenty of positive distractions.

As well as asking a loved one to order food online if they find food shopping triggering.

Supermarkets including Sainsbury's, Aldi, Asda and Waitrose have issued new policies this week amid panic-buying of groceries and other products.

Many of the big name supermarkets are now rationing customers to a certain number of items each.

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this article, you can contact the following organisations for support: the BEAT helpline on 0808 801 0677​ or Mind on 0300 123 3393​.

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