Directors Dr Helen Malson and Dr Sanni Norweg reflect on the work achieved by Eating Disorders HIT over the past year.
This year has been a challenging time due to Covid-19, but we have adapted to new ways of working together and engaging with our collaborators and colleagues across public, service-user, clinical, academic and voluntary sector contexts to continue our various projects.
This year we’ve held several successful events.In May 2020, during Mental Health Awareness Week we launched our cross-HIT arts-based ‘#Capture Kindness’ event on social media where people were invited to post images that captured acts of kindness. In December 2020, we held an online Covid-19 discussion event for service users and carers, exploring their experiences of access to services and the impact of the pandemic on the quality of care they received. We also released a self-care calendar for the month of December (which we titled 'elf-care' to give it a Christmas theme); to promote a month of mindfulness and self-care activities.
In response to Black Lives Matter, we posted a statement of solidarity and have been building links with Community Access Support Service (CASS) Bristol and Nilaari (a local mental health charity that works with ethnic minority communities) who are helping us to develop our engagement with ethnic minority communities and to work towards eliminating white privilege and racism in ED services and research and in our own communications. We intend to extend this work to also focus on working with LGBTQ+ communities.
We have also had some successes in securing funding, for example, ESRC Emerging Minds Network funds to help us develop our engagement with young people and funding for our research into experiences of social/digital media among people with lived experience. We are now also starting our BNSSG RCF-funded project into improving primary care experiences and are about to launch a survey to explore how people with lived experience have experienced the pandemic and its associated restrictions to our lives.
Enhancing eating disorder prevention has been a key focus again this year, creating an ‘eating disorder support and resources’ signposting guide. We have also worked with Knut Schroeder at Expert Self Care, developing the Coronavirus Support App UK to include helpful and accurate information on eating disorder awareness.We continue to develop our own Eating Disorder Support app, which will be launched in summer 2021.
In March 2021, we held our sixth research conference ‘Challenging Weight Stigma’, with presentations from Professor Emma Rich from the University of Bath and Professor Carla Rice from the University of Guelph, Canada. The virtual format allowed us to reach a wider audience, with international speakers and delegated from not only the UK but also North America and Europe. It was attended by more than 130 people, our most successful research conference to-date.