Empowering Families workshops to carers of people with eating disorders
  • Petitioning Department of Health

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Department of Health

Empowering Families workshops to carers of people with eating disorders

    1. Stephen Linacre
    2. Petition by

      Stephen Linacre

      Leeds, United Kingdom

An eating disorder has a profound effect not only on the person who is unwell, but also on those who care for them. Up to 40% of carers experience anxiety and/or depression at a clinical level. Family/carers are in a unique position to support their loved one to tackle the eating disorder, but can often feel excluded from services. This can lead to feelings of frustration, guilt and disempowerment. Carers frequently ask Beat (the national eating disorders charity) and health professionals for specific, clear guidance on how best to help their loved one.

As part of Beat’s ongoing commitment to improve services, they have launched Empowering Families; a course of seven to eight skills training workshops which equip carers with the latest insight and tools detailed in ‘The New Maudsley Method’ (see ‘Skills-based Learning for Caring for a Loved-one with an Eating Disorder’, Treasure, Smith and Crane, 2007) pioneered by the Maudsley hospital in London, a leading inpatient and research unit.
The New Maudsley Method has been developed to support carers to increase their understanding about the illness and offers professional techniques for dealing with the difficulties created by the eating disorder, including
•Dealing with challenging behaviour
•Specialised communication skills
•Avoiding traps that may maintain the disorder
•Supporting recovery
The Empowering Families workshops support a collaborative care ethos in which professionals, carers and sufferers work together towards recovery, empowering carers to become expert change coaches, using professional skills and information to support their loved one to break free from traps that prevent recovery, while looking after their own needs.

We are in Leeds and as volunteers we have piloted these workshops. We now need the NHS to commission Empowering Families workshops all around the country.

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 1,000 signatures
    2. Thank you for your ongoing support

      Stephen Linacre
      Petition Organizer

      There is a big effort with us at the Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorders Carers Support Group to try and get the needs of carers noticed by the government. We have contacted local MPs to highlight this as an important issue. If you get chance please also email your local MP to make them aware of this petition and the need to support carers.

      As you will see there are other eating disorder related petitions on change.org that are related to eating disorders e.g.
      Promote this to everyone!
      Best wishes
      Dr Stephen Linacre
      Clinical Psychologist

      Change.org - Start, Join, and Win Campaigns for Change

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    3. Reached 500 signatures
    4. Thank you for your support

      Stephen Linacre
      Petition Organizer

      The number of people supporting this petition is slowly increasing but I think we still need to get the message across more widely. Many celebrities have suffered from eating disorders and my plan is to write/ contact to them to support our goal. Please get in touch with me at s_linacre@hotmail.com if you know of any celebrities (preferably from UK) who might be willing to support us. Please also give me details of where I can contact them (e.g. agents address, twitter account or email etc)

      thank you for your continued support

      Dr Stephen Linacre

    5. Reached 200 signatures


    Reasons for signing

      • about 1 month ago

      I have almost fully recovered and I want to raise awareness that recovery IS possible x I believe in everyone

    • Sharon Witton LEEDS, UNITED KINGDOM
      • 5 months ago

      For all the families battling

    • Anita Kanitz STUTTGART, GERMANY
      • 6 months ago

      Do images of superthin supermodels play a role in eating disorders?

      Eating disorders are responsible for the highest number of deaths from psychiatric illness. The Eating Disorders Association estimates that about 165,000 people in the UK have eating disorders with 10% dying as a result, but experts believe it could be higher. Most sufferers are women, but one in 10 are now men.

      The most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and compulsive over-eating. But other disorders exist. For example, some people severely restrict the range of food they eat or several children have a psychological fear of food.

      Anorexia, which involves depriving the body of food, is more common in young people. Children as young as three have been treated for it.

      Bulimia, characterised by a cycle of starving and bingeing, is more likely in adults.

      The emphasis on super-thin models has been blamed for the increase in eating disorders.

      Experts say that these can have an effect on how people perceive themselves, but the causes of eating disorders are usually more complex and are linked to general feelings of self-worth.

      Anorexia nervosa

      Around 5% of young girls in the UK are estimated to have anorexia nervosa. Boys and children from ethnic minorities are much less likely to be affected.

      The condition results in death in 20% of cases after 20 years of onset of the illness.

      Only around 60% of anorexics recover. The illness is also one of the most controversial areas in mental health.

      Psychiatrists have singled out several characteristics which they say are typical of anorexics.

      These include: a dominant, over-protective and critical mother and a passive or withdrawn father and a tendency to perfectionism, a strong desire for social approval and a need for order and control.

      However, many of these characteristics have been the subject of dispute.

      The media and its emphasis on super-thin models is also blamed by some for influencing the way people, particularly girls, see themselves and making them believe looks are all-important.

      Feminists argue that it is not the images in themselves which are harmful, but the fact that women still derive much of their sense of self-worth from whether they please men.

      Anorexia nervosa is a form of intentional self-starvation. What may begin as a normal diet is carried to extremes, with many reducing their intake to an absolute minimum. It is also characterised by obsessive behaviour. The majority of anorexics deny they have a problem.

      Lack of food deprives the body of protein and prevents the normal metabolism of fat. The effects of this can include:

      an irregular heart beat caused by a change in the heart muscle. This can lead to heart failure and death.

      ceasing of menstruation

      dehydration, kidney stones and kidney failure

      the growth of fine downy body hair, called lanugo, on the face and arms

      wasting away of muscles, leading to weakness

      constipation or bowel irritation

      osteoporosis caused by lack of calcium.

      Symptoms of anorexia

      Symptoms of anorexia range from extreme weight loss for no discernable medical reason; ritualistic food habits, such as excessive chewing; denying hunger and exercising excessively to choosing low calorie food and hiding feelings. A person with anorexia may be excessively thin but still see themselves as overweight.

      The average age for onset of the illness is thought to be 16, although the age range of anorexia is between 10 and 40. Around 90% of cases are female. Most have no history of being overweight.

      Treatment for anorexia

      Over 25% of anorexics are so weak that they require hospitalisation. This may involve force feeding as well as advice on healthy eating and counselling.

      Many doctors believe that once a person's bodyweight has fallen below a certain level, they are no longer capable of making rational decisions.

      There has been wide-ranging debate over whether anorexics should be force-fed or whether they have the right to literally starve themselves to death.

      In 1997, guidance was offered to doctors, telling them that they can force feed anorexics over the age of 18 under the Mental Health Act 1983. The anorexic must be shown to be incapable of making rational decisions about their condition.

      Other forms of treatment range from group therapy, family counselling and psychotherapy to antidepressants.

      Around one third of patients recover fully; another third improve significantly and the last third do not recover.

      Bulimia nervosa

      Bulimia is thought to be two to three times more common than anorexia, but is not generally as physically dangerous.

      However, excessive use of laxatives and self-induced vomiting can cause rupture of the oesophagus, mineral deficiency and dehydration, which can have serious effects on health.

      Bulimia was only officially recognised in the 1970s and is characterised by a cycle of bingeing and starving.

      Many bulimics seem fine, but experts say that, under the surface, they often feel worthless.

      Bulimics may have irregular periods or stop having periods at all because of excessive use of laxatives and vomiting.

      Using laxatives can also cause kidney and bowel problems and stomach disorders.

      Laxatives do not cause people to lose weight, but remove water and essential minerals, such as potassium, from the body, giving the appearance of weight loss.

      Excessive vomiting can cause tooth decay, bad breath, mouth ulcers, sore throats and stomach disorders and may have serious long-term health implications.

      Some experts believe bulimia is the result of an imbalance of chemicals to the brain, but others think the illness is more likely to be linked to a lack of self-worth.

      It is thought that up to half of anorexics also suffer from bulimia and some 40% of bulimics are reported to have a history of anorexia.

      Sufferers tend to be older than anorexics, take a longer time to recover and are more likely ot commit suicide.

      Treatment for bulimia includes the use of drugs such as antidepressants, counselling which examines the cause of bulimic behaviour and behavioural modification, including education about healthy eating.

      Power Control and obedience

      In her book Unbearable Weight, Susan Bordo (1993) makes the argument that the fear of women's fat is actually a fear of women's power. Thus, as women gain power in society, their bodies dwindle and suffer. She states that "female hunger--for public power, for independence, for sexual gratification-- [must] be contained, and the public space that women be allowed to take up be circumscribed, limited... On the body of the anorexic woman such rules are grimly and deeply etched" (Bordo, 171).

      Naomi Wolf (1991) has a similar explanation of the origin of eating disorders in her bestseller The Beauty Myth. She states: "a cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession.

      Topless feminists from the feminist group Femen protested against use of the anorexic models outside the Versace fashion show in Milan in 2012. Topless feminists tried to enter into Versace Fall-winter 2012-2013 show during the Milan Womenswear Fashion Week having a handwritten slogan such as ‘Fashion = Fascism’ and ‘Anorexia’ illegible

      across their bare bodies. But Italian police prevented them from entering the Versace fashion show.

      Allegra, the daughter of Donatella Versace and successor to the fashion throne battling anorexia for years.Femen group battling against sex tourists, international marriage agencies, sexism and other social, national and international ills.

      Feminists have claimed that 150,000 women DIE each year because of anorexia.

      • 8 months ago

      I have friends in need of support

      • 8 months ago

      My niece is anorexic. People like her are unheard and need full time love, support, help and understanding. This starts at home. Fiona sheldon


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