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EATING DISORDERS AWARENESS WEEK: West Yorkshire support

 

A West Yorkshire-based eating disorders service that increased its expertise online at the start of the pandemic has had an overwhelming response - with their award winning Instagram Live series now passing 45,000 views.

Connect: The West Yorkshire Adult Eating Disorder Service provides support and treatment to those with anorexia and bulimia across West Yorkshire, including early intervention, outpatient, inpatient and intensive home-based treatments, but staff who run the service wanted to do more during the pandemic to make sure that no-one was left facing an eating disorder alone.

Connect, which is part of Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, has been using Instagram since 2019, but started their ‘Connect Conversations’ series during the first lockdown in 2020 to offer vital support to those with eating disorders across the country.

Since then, they’ve hosted around 350 Lives, which is more than 150 hours of content. Together, they have a combined total of more than 45,000 views.

The conversations are recovery-focused and are led by members of the multidisciplinary team including psychological therapists, psychologists, dietitians, mental health nurses and peer support workers. Each starts with a suggested theme, for example, self-compassion, regular eating or identity, but is shaped by those who join live and the questions and subjects they raise. There are regular slots to offer support with snacks, tackle myths surrounding food and eating disorders, and support followers to set and re-evaluate goals.

Connect have been recognised for their work on social media during the pandemic at the Health Business Awards, winning the ‘Innovation in Mental Health’ category, and have been shortlisted for a national NHS Parliamentary Award in the ‘Excellence in Mental Health Care’ category. They’ve also been nominated for BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind Awards, by a follower who wants to remain anonymous, but has described the online conversations as “a lifeline during lockdown; a comforting and soul-sustaining time to listen to others, and tell others of my worries, typically twice a day.”

In addition to the work Connect have been doing on Instagram throughout the pandemic, they’ve also been running a weekly online support group known as the ‘Hub’. This is held via Zoom on a Wednesday night and provides another opportunity for recovery-focussed discussion, covering up to three themes that people can submit in advance.

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The online support being offered by Connect is currently available to anyone affected by an eating disorder.

Regular live chats are taking place on Instagram @connectlypft at around 10am and 4pm each weekday. Those unable to attend live, can watch these back via the service’s IGTV channel.

The Hub support group is currently running on Zoom. You can email virtualconnect.lypft@nhs.net for the joining details.

Anyone taking part in these opportunities for online support is asked to read and adhere to our patient agreement for social media use. This is to ensure that these remain safe spaces for everyone.

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