Jane Fowler – Head of Customer Support Services
Hello everyone and happy Wednesday to you all. I hope that the 3 named storms we have had have not had too much of an impact on you – I’ve been hearing about trampolines and climbing frames being upended as well as lots of travel disruptions. I hope you all kept safe.
This week we are looking into two areas that can have a huge impact on our wellbeing and our lives and that are exacerbated by the increased dependence we have on social media. Sadly we continue to see an increase in the prevalence of eating disorders in society, particularly amongst young people. These are serious mental health issues, which can be life threatening, but which people can recover from with the right treatment and support. If you have concerns about a colleague or loved one, or perhaps recognise some of these symptoms in yourself, there is action you can take. Having that conversation, having the courage to speak up and to listen are very important first steps.
Bullying is something that we have to be continually aware of and have the courage to call it out wherever we see it, hear it or read it. We have zero tolerance to bullying in our workplace and will support anyone who raises it as an issue. Tackling bullying is for all of us – so let’s Stand Up to Bullying this week and always.
And to wrap up with a continuation of my own wellbeing theme of more reading, less screen time – I am now on a new novel by Val McDermid 1979, which has transported me back to my teenage years. Not so much a crime novel as a thriller based on a young journalist. There are a few more in the series to look forward to with the same central character 1989, 1999 etc so I’ll be picking those up when they are published!
Enjoy your week and keep well.
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week
Eating Disorders Awareness Week is the international event for raising awareness and understanding of eating disorders, challenging stereotypes and stigmas.
Food plays a central role in many workplaces. From office treats to team lunches and canteens to diet culture—many things make life at work more difficult for people with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are mental health conditions that can seriously affect daily life.
Beat Eating Disorder estimate that eating disorders affect around 1.25 million people in the UK. There are many people out there, possibly amongst your colleagues, that are struggling.
This is why it’s so important that we all take steps to understand what an eating disorder is, how we can spot the signs and how we can support others.
Food is woven into our culture, conversations, and connections—and this shows up in the workplace too. If you’ve not experienced an eating disorder before, it’s hard to understand how this can cause difficulties. Health Assured, our Employee Assistance Provider have put together some tips on how you can look out for colleagues with an eating disorder in your workplace.
What is an eating disorder?
Eating disorders affect mental health and relationship with food. People with an eating disorder use food to cope with emotions and difficulties. There are a range of eating disorders that affect people differently. These include (this list isn’t exhaustive):
Anorexia – controlling food intake and exercising a lot to keep weight as low as possible.
Bulimia – a cycle of binging then taking drastic action not to put on weight (such as vomiting).
Binge Eating Disorder – eating large quantities of food to the point of feeling uncomfortably full and experiencing shame or guilt about the binge.
Spotting the signs
Different eating disorders come with different symptoms. But things to look out for include:
- Increased stress levels
- Physical changes (weight gain/loss)
- Distancing themselves from others
- Abnormal or secretive eating habits
- Mood swings
- Compulsive exercising
- Increased irritability
- Excessive concern about weight, exercise and food
Supporting colleagues with an eating disorder
The earlier a person seeks treatment, the greater their chances of recovery. Try to create a supportive environment at work that encourages others to open up when they’re struggling. You can find some top tips for this below.
If you think someone might have an eating disorder
If you’re concerned about a colleague at work, there are a few things you can do. Try to keep the conversation about food to a minimum and talk about other things where you can. Removing comments and narratives about weight gain or loss will also help. Often, we don’t realise how deeply engrained these topics are into our conversations until we pay more attention to them.
Try to check in regularly with them to see how they are. Ask genuine questions and really listen to the responses. It’s all too easy to get lost in busy work schedules. But taking a quick five minutes to stop and connect with the people around you can make all the difference.
If someone at work opens up to you
Opening up takes a lot of courage. If someone opens up to you at work, there are several things you can do to support them. Listen carefully and try your best to make the person feel heard and understood. Don’t judge the person. Eating disorders are a serious mental health condition, and they can make day-to-day life a challenge.
Be accepting and open with the language you use. You don’t need to have all the answers. Just being there and creating a safe space to talk can be enough to ease difficult emotions.
If you need support with eating disorders, you can access the Health Assured Portal here (if prompted the username is argyll and password is bute). You can also contact the 24/7 free confidential helpline for Health Assured on: 0844 892 2493
For general information about various types of eating disorders and help available, visit: Overview – Eating disorders – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
International Stand Up to Bullying Day – 25th February 2022
Stand Up to Bullying Day was launched in 2016 with the support of HRH The Duke of Cambridge. The day seeks to bring the nation together to take a collective stand against all forms of bullying, whether in school, the workplace or elsewhere.
Over the last three years, this annual campaign has reached has reached millions of people with famous faces such as Jessie J, James McVey and numerous MPs joining the nation to #StandUpToBullying.
Standing up means being an upstander, not a bystander. It means calling others out when their actions are unkind, reporting conversations online that don’t look right and creating a community that will speak out and stand up to bullying.
There is no legal definition of bullying, but it is can be defined as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, and/or an abuse or misuse of power, which is intended to undermine, humiliate or physically injure someone.
Bullying can take many forms including:
- physical assault
- social bullying
- threatening behaviour
- name calling
- ignoring or excluding someone
There is no excuse for bullying and the impact of being bullied can be devastating and long-lasting.
You can find out more about the campaign and what you can do to support it here
You can also find specific resources for promoting #StandUpToBullying day in Schools here
As an employer, the Council has a zero tolerance approach to bullying and has a Dignity at Work policy and procedure which provides information and advice on dealing with bullying and harassment in the workplace, the processes that will be followed and the sources of support available to those affected by bullying.
You can find more information on the policy and support available here
In addition to the above, for those who work in the HSCP, the Guardian service is an independent and confidential resource for staff to discuss matters relating to patient and service user care and safety, whistleblowing, bullying and harassment, and workplace grievances.
The guardians are external to the HSCP and will provide information and emotional support in a strictly confidential, non-judgemental manner. The ‘Speak Up’ Guardian Service can be accessed 24/7 via 0333 577 5955 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also find out more information on their website at www.theguardianservice.co.uk.
Thanks for reading and, as ever, keep in touch with us at email@example.com