Why we should #DumpTheScales

PUBLISHED: 17:01 25 August 2018

Hannah Brown. Picture: East London NHS Foundation Trust

Hannah Brown. Picture: East London NHS Foundation Trust

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An Ear To Hear was a creation born out of frustration and anguish.

Having left what I thought was my dream job to pursue and commit to my recovery for my eating disorder, I pushed myself to seek out support, to try and piece the things back together that had fallen so cataclysmically apart.

Sitting in front of the GP, the first appointment I had managed to get was with a locum. Surely. though, a doctor is a doctor, a trained medical professional – a position of respect and most certainly someone that I would be able to trust in putting the wheels into motion to help navigate my way to recovery.

How wrong I was. While I unreservedly knew that my mental health was at a critically low point, stepping onto the scales and the number to bounce back at me defined my prognosis. And it wasn’t the path that I had almost dreamt of.

Days later, I received the phone call that, as my weight was too high, I was technically healthy enough not to warrant treatment from the specialist eating disorder team. But do not fear, I had been put on the waiting list and could expect an appointment within four-and-a-half months.

Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. Men, women, adults and children.

First and foremost eating disorders are a mental illness and it is estimated that there are 1.25 million people in the UK affected.

Early intervention is absolutely imperative, and simply everything but to wait until someone is critical before making that diagnosis is, quite frankly, negligible and utterly terrifying.

Dump The Scales by campaigner Hope Virgo is an online petition which asks people to sign to encourage the government to reconsider how service providers are delivering and fully implementing the clinical guidance that is in place, ensuring uniformity and consistency in diagnosing and referring for treatment.

Waiting lists are another minefield and, with an incredible lack of resource and funding, there is no magic answer, money tree or pot at the end of the rainbow. But what we can do is ensure that every person who finds the courage to seek help is given that chance to receive the care they deserve. This early care would prevent more drastic and costly intervention later on when there becomes a critical physical need.

Why do GPs wait? Why do we encourage our loved ones, our communities to seek out support, exposing our mental health issues, facing the daily exhaustion of an eating disorder – only to be reduced to a number on the scales?

Eating disorders kill, but they don’t have to. Recovery is possible but only with the support, care and intervention from service providers.

I am more than my weight, so please #DumpTheScales.

For more about An Ear To Hear visit aneartohear.co.uk and follow @aneartohearhlb on Twitter.

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