Online support for eating disorders in Scotland

Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, writes for the Our Wave blog about their recently launched Scotland-wide peer support service for young people and their parents and carers. The service has been developed by the charity, in partnership with NHS Lothian, thanks to a Technology Enabled Care Grant from the Scottish Government.

Beat’s peer support service gives you the opportunity to talk to someone who understands your experiences of eating disorders. You will be paired with a Beat-trained volunteer befriender who has recovered from an eating disorder or supported someone through recovery.

Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses, and Beat aims to end the stigma and stereotypes surrounding these disorders. They affect not only those suffering, but their friends and family. As one Beat Befriender noted:

“It can be very disheartening to reach out for help and not have the correct support system because people don’t have enough of an understanding. I would like to help friends and family with how to support and deal with the situation. The approach and understanding is half the battle when helping someone you care about with an eating disorder.”

Introducing the befrienders:

Befrienders have been trained by Beat, and are either:

  • individuals aged between 18-35 years old who have personally recovered from an eating disorder
  • parents and carers who have supported a young person aged between 12-25 years old with an eating disorder.

Reflecting on why she was eager to volunteer for this service, one of our parent befrienders advised:

“With my daughter now in very good health, I would like to give something back, support Beat’s important work and help other families who are in the grip of an eating disorder.”

Befrienders will provide 1-3 emails per week, giving you encouragement, support and a listening ear. They will also signpost you onto other services that may be helpful during your journey.

One of our befrienders commented on the value that they believe this service has, stating:

“I can really see the potential value in the email service in offering someone to listen, and allowing anonymity that many individuals experiencing eating disorders need.”

Commenting on recovering from her eating disorder, another of our befrienders stated that:

“I struggled to recover on my own but with the help of professionals and my amazing family I found the strength to get better. I learnt that there is so much more to life. Recovery was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but by far the best!”

Am I eligible?

If either of the statements below apply to you, you can access support through the peer support service:

  • I provide support to a young person in Scotland with an eating disorder who is aged between 12-25 years old OR
  • I am a young person with an eating disorder in Scotland and I am 14-25 years old

How to access this support:

Email to register for this service.

Beat are also currently promoting this service via their Scottish Twitter account (@BeatED_Scotland), where both volunteers and ambassadors are sharing what they would have benefited from during their journey with an eating disorder.

Check out the service poster for more information.

Looking for further support:

Helpline (for those over 18 years old): 0808 801 0677;

Youthline (for those under 18 years old): 0808 801 0711;

Visit for message boards, online support groups, one-to-one chat and further information.

Use to find services in your area.