47% do not have access to support for eating disorders in the workplace

Andrew Radford 2015

Almost half (47%) of respondents do not have access to workplace support mechanisms for eating disorders, according to research by eating disorder charity Beat.

Its survey of 653 people with experience of an eating disorder also found that 40% of respondents say their employers’ impact on their recovery from an eating disorder was unhelpful.

The survey also found:

  • A fifth (20%) of respondents say their employer offers formal channels of support for eating disorders, 16% have access to informal support mechanisms and 18% do not know whether there are any support channels available.
  • 38% use their annual leave to attend medical appointments for their eating disorder.
  • Around a third (32%) of respondents have experienced discrimination at work because of their eating disorder.
  • Just over half (52%) of respondents say that there is not a policy in place to support eating disorders and mental health in their place of work.
  • 46% believe that having a mental health first aider would be helpful for those coping with eating disorders, and 60% believe training for managers would be helpful.
  • 69% of respondents think that a policy concerning mental health and eating disorders would support employees experiencing eating disorders, and 43% think work-based counselling would be helpful.
  • 45% respondents do not believe their employer and colleagues are informed about eating disorders.

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Andrew Radford (pictured), chief executive of Beat, said: “Employers can play an important role in supporting recovery. The stigma and misunderstanding experienced by so many in the workplace must be replaced with support and compassion championed by a formal mechanism of support.

“The responsibility for early identification and treatment of these serious mental illnesses should not lie with the health service alone. The whole of society must act if we are to improve the lives of everybody affected by an eating disorder.”