Published on October 28, 2013 | by Beau Bass

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UAL back eating disorder campaign

UAL Canteen

UAL is supporting for BEAT’s eating disorder campaign [Rosa Hardaker]

UAL is supporting a new campaign designed to tackle eating disorders among students.

The charity Beat says that without support, students affected by eating disorders can be forced to drop out of university.

A survey of more than 200 such students showed that 18 per cent had to drop out of university due to their disorders, while 39 per cent had to take a break from their studies.

Ken Ewings, Head of Counselling at UAL, says the university’s services help students tackle mental health problems: “We are aware of Beat’s campaign to raise awareness of eating disorders in universities and we are fully supportive of it.

“At UAL we have a health adviser who does a lot of work with students with eating disorders and refers them to specialist care when appropriate.”

Risk factors

A spokesperson for Beat said: “We know there are a number of risk factors when young people go to university such as moving away from home and living independently, academic pressures, making new friends. The average age for developing an eating disorder is 12-20 so this can be a very vulnerable time for some people.

“The sooner someone gets the help, support and treatment they need, the more likely they are to make a full recovery. We are contacting universities and engaging with students to raise awareness and understand of these serious mental illnesses,” they added.

The survey also shows that 69 per cent had difficulty accessing treatment and 30 per cent had to wait more than 18 weeks to begin treatment with the NHS once they had been diagnosed.

Affect on degree

One UAL student told ALN that she received no help for her eating disorder until she returned home at the end of the year: “Although I did not drop out of university, my eating disorder definitely had an effect on my studies. I only just scraped a pass in my first year.

“I did not actively seek out help from the university, it wasn’t until the summer when I went back home that I got the treatment I needed,” she said.

Ewings believes that UAL is meeting demands for mental health advice: “We have a team of counsellors and mental health advisers who can also be approached by any student who is concerned about their eating behaviour.

“One message we want to get across is the importance of students registering with a GP and talking to a health adviser.”

You can find out more about the campaign on the BEAT website.

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