25th February 2023 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
According to the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) National Clinical Programme for Eating Disorders, over 188,000 people in Ireland are affected by eating disorders – serious and complex conditions with increased risk of mortality. Boys and men affected by eating disorders have often been under-recognised and under-treated. In fact, one in four eating disorders may be experienced by a man
Bodywhys; The Eating Disorders Association of Ireland are shining a light on eating disorders in boys, men and those who identify as male and raising awareness around challenges that men can face in recognising their symptoms as that of an eating disorder and in diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.
The theme for Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2023 (27th February – 5th March), ‘Breaking The Stigma: Diverse Male Experiences With Eating Disorders and Body Image’, originating from increasing presentations of men with complex eating disorders, aims to bring the unique male experience to the foreground and to break down the stigma that may stand in the way of men reaching out for help. A misunderstanding that eating disorders are a ‘female problem/illness’ can be part of the stigma experienced by men. It may take some men months or years to acknowledge their experiences may be that of an eating disorder. This can delay help-seeking and lead to them becoming more unwell. Several online events are taking place throughout the week, focusing on topics such as the experience of boys, men, and those who identify as male, as well as families, siblings and partners.
Chris Duff (Bodywhys Media Panel Member) said ‘When I was young and sick I didn’t see anyone dealing with what I was dealing with or anyone talking about surviving. I felt hopeless, broken beyond repair, alone and doomed. We need more men speaking up, we need more stories people might be able to relate to so they can see hope.’ Chris adds ‘My parents were told that ‘Boys don’t get eating disorders’. That prevented me from getting the help I needed and added to the shame and isolation I already felt.’
Ellen Jennings (Communications Officer at Bodywhys) said ‘Research evidence shows that men experiencing eating disorders may be misunderstood, there are some symptoms that may be more male orientated such as a focus on shape, leanness and muscle definition. Compulsive exercise or anxiety from missing a workout may also be a significant concern’ Ellen adds ‘Last year, we set up our men’s online support group to offer a space for men to share experiences that are unique to them. The group runs monthly, in addition to our weekly Bodywhys Connect group, which is open to everyone. We invite anyone who wants to learn more, support someone or raise awareness to get involved this Eating Disorders Awareness Week, you can find all the details on our website www.bodywhys.ie and social media platforms.’
People can and do recover from eating disorders
Notes for Editors
- Bodywhys is the national voluntary organisation supporting people affected by eating disorders. An estimated 188,895 people in Ireland will experience an eating disorder at some point in their lives. ((HSE), National Clinical Programme for Eating Disorders)
- Bodywhys next PiLaR programme for family members, parents and carers starts on Thursday, March 9th 2023, running from 7pm – 9pm. To book a free place, please contact Christopher via firstname.lastname@example.org
- Bodywhys Online Support Groups, for men, students, teenagers and adults are available at www.bodywhys.ie (https://www.bodywhys.ie/recovery-support-treatment/support-services-2/support-groups/)
- Email support and a listening ear can be accessed via email@example.com
- Bodywhys Helpline Number: 01 2107906
For further information, please contact:
Tel: 01 283 4963 or Mobile: 087 7769708