This week on the Diverse Minds podcast is all about Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and I’m delighted to be joined by Hope Virgo.

If you enjoyed this episode, then consider subscribing on Apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you access your podcasts from. 

There are two weeks allocated to raising awareness about eating disorders. Firstly, the National Eating Disorders Association’s week running from the 24 Feb to the 1 March. The second one run by Beat Eating disorders from 2 to 8  March. Whichever week you choose, it’s about challenging stereotypes. 

About my guest

Hope Virgo is the author of Stand Tall Little Girl and an international, multi-award-winning leading advocate for people with eating disorders. 

Hope helps young people and employers including schools, hospitals and businesses, to deal with a rising tide of mental health issues which affect one in four people, costing between £33 and £42 billion annually. 

She’s been described as sharing a very powerful story with a huge impact. Hope is also a recognised media spokesperson having appeared on various platforms including BBC News Night, Victoria Derbyshire, Good Morning Britain, Sky News and BBC News. 

For four years, Hope managed to keep her eating disorder hidden, through dark secrets from friends and family. But then on 17th November 2007, Hope’s life changed forever. She was admitted to a mental health hospital, her skin was yellowing, her heart was failing, she was barely recognisable. Forced to leave her family and friends, the hospital became her home. 

Over the next year, at her lowest ebb, she faced the biggest challenge of her life – she had to find the courage to beat her anorexia. So I’m so delighted to be joined by Hope on the show today.Hope Virgo's Tip for Wellbeing 365

Eating Disorder statistics: 

  • Approximately 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder. 1 in 5 females aged 16 to 24 has an eating disorder. 
  • Around 25% of those affected by an eating disorder are male.
  • Research has shown that 20% of people living with anorexia will die prematurely from their condition. 
  • Gay males represent c.5- 10% of the total male population. But among males who have eating disorders, 42% identify as gay. 
  • Research has also shown that as early as 12, lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, intersex and transgender teens may be at higher risk of binge eating and purging than their heterosexual and cis peers.
  • Nearly 4 in 10 or 39% of people believe eating disorders are more common amongst white people than other ethnicities. 

In today’s show, we talk about:

  • How sharing her story has helped her and as well as others [06:11]
  • What made Hope begin to share her story. [08:34]
  • Ways to start conversations with people that we care about, around mental health if we think they may have an eating disorder. [14:25]
  • Hope’s top three tips on how employers can deal with staff that may be struggling with an eating disorder but don’t want to access support [19:09]
  • How businesses and organisations can get involved in Eating Disorders Awareness Week(s). [21:54]

Connect with my guest:

Helpful resources:

Quotes: 

  • I found writing my book really therapeutic, and it definitely helped me to manage my recovery in a really positive sense.
  • If you’re an organisation that is fairly new to all of this, I would say organise events to actually start that conversation.
  • Have your senior leadership team come forward and say they’re supporting this week, and clearly state why they are supporting it.
  • Always make sure that people get the support they need, even if it takes times
  • When and if it gets to a crisis point for someone, I think you do have to contact their next of kin. I think that’s really, really important.

Work with me

Want to do more in your workplace 366 days of this year?

So why not find out more about how I can help you and your workplace wellbeing plans by booking a free 30-minute call with me here: https://calendly.com/leylao 

Find out more about the solutions I offer: https://diverseminds.co.uk/solutions/ 

Subscribe to the podcast

If you enjoyed this episode, then consider subscribing on Apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you access your podcasts from. 

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Remember to tune in to next week’s episode, where I’ll bring you more insights into mental health and inclusion.