Feedback from this questionnaire is outlined below in separate sections. Following the helpful information we have gained so far we really want to push to get more responses. If you have not yet completed the questionnaire please do so. If you feel able to forward to friends, that would also be fantastic!
Having looked at the data we have so far, we seem to have a few tentative results. Firstly, we asked people about Counselling services, Peer support and GPs. 73 – 76 people who responded that they had had or a friend of theirs had had an eating disorder answered these questions. These are students from across a range of universities.
University Counselling Service
21 said that they or their friend had been to the University Counsellors. This is less than 30%. Of those 21, 12 found the counsellors helpful, this is around 50%. Students cited that they did not access university counselling services because they felt that there was a stigma attached to seeking support and they felt that it was too difficult to know where to start looking for support. When students did use the counselling service but did not find them helpful they predominately cited two reasons for this. First, they found it difficult to get an appointment and / or found that not enough sessions were offered. Second, they felt that the counsellors were not a specialist service and did not know enough about eating disorders to be of any help. No respondents gave a comprehensive explanation of why they found the counselling service helpful.
39 students said that they or their friend had been to the GP, this is around 50% and thus the highest used point of support. Of these 39, 67% found that the GP was helpful. Of those who did not find the GP helpful, explanations cited included a failure to understand the problem, treating the disorder as a phase, not taking the issue seriously or treating the patient as something “to be fixed.” Of those who did find the GP helpful, a few cited explanations for this which actually highlighted negative aspects of NHS care, such as long waiting lists which led to deterioration before treatment could be accessed. Interestingly, several friends cited the GP as being helpful because he/she prescribed antidepressants. This is an interesting contrast to the attitude of many individuals with eating disorders who would prefer a form of talking therapy to a prescription. A few individuals cited fantastic feedback about the level of support and understanding that their GP was able to offer. This clearly indicates that GP support can be hit and miss, at times being fantastic and at times being very limited.
Only 11 (or 15%) of respondents had accessed peer support, but 73% found that peer support was helpful. No participants explained why they did not find peer support helpful but a few highlighted how supportive group sessions were.
Where do people turn to for support.
103 people answered our question of where they would turn for support if concerned about a friend.
· 26% replied that they would talk to their friends first
· 18% said that the first person they would talk to would be the individual concerned
· 10% said they would turn to peer support first, this might be peer supports, welfare reps or support groups like SRSH.
· 9% said they would turn to their GP or go to the GP with their friend.
· 8% felt they would talk to their family first
Only 4% of respondents felt that they did not know who they would turn to. Only 5% of respondents said that at some point they would contact B-eat for advice. Nearly 20% of respondents said that at some stage they would consider contacting peer-support.
Of the 114 people who completed the questionnaire and thus could have responded to these questions,
- 83% felt that it would be helpful to talk to other students who were facing a similar situation
- 96% felt that they knew what an eating disorder was
- 79% felt they knew where to look to find more information about eating disorders.
- 74% felt they knew how to find out information about their counselling service.
However only 40% responded that their students' union or university provided information about eating disorders or the support available for students and only half of respondent felt they knew how to find out about local NHS support for mental health problems.
We will be reporting more feedback from this questionnaire later in the year.