Takeover Challenge Healthy Eating: an interview with Hannah Brown from An Ear To Hear
Hannah Brown has built her own company, ‘AnEarToHear’, with the aim to help those with an eating disorder feel they can talk about it and not be alone or scared.
Her company is there as ‘a self-referral support service’ so that those who are in need can speak to people who will understand exactly what they’re going through. Hannah promises, ‘It’s a relaxed form of support that can be given through texts, calls, emails or through one-to-one sessions’ as she has links to professional services.
Hannah is an eating disorder survivor, who claims her recovery process is ‘ongoing’ and is not something she sees herself ever fully recovering from. Hannah reminds us that ‘recovery is all about identifying eating disorder thoughts and learning not to act on them’ to begin the journey of progression as well as understanding your mind. She believes a full recovery is very possible, the important thing is to remember eating disorders are a form of mental illness and so must be treated as one.
Some advice Hannah would give to those facing an eating disorder is, not to put pressure on yourself – take your time and be gentle along the way. She also raises the point that every recovery journey is different; there is no right way to go about it or right amount of time it should take. Everyone should find the courage to speak to someone about their worries because the fear in your head can cause more stress and anxiety about what is happening to you.
Q: Tell us more about some of the work that you are doing along-side the peer support site.
A: I frequently conduct workshops for service users, professionals and carers of those with eating disorders, working in partnership with other NHS organisations. Conferences are a great way of connecting with others and promoting dialogue and it is always great to meet so many people. Writing and journalism is one of the areas that I probably enjoy the most and I write for a number of publications on all sorts of things!
Q: How do you feel about the stigma around eating disorders? –do you feel it gets talked about enough?
A: The reality is that all forms of eating disorders are incredibly complex and very serious, they should be talked about more but not just to raise awareness. These essential conversations should be more proactive to encourage people to speak out about any concerns they have, not to feel any shame and to recognise some of the signs of Eating Disorders.
Q: How can we raise funds/recourses needed to help people facing a disorder and what will this contribute to?
A: The biggest thing that you can do is it to promote dialogue around Eating Disorders. We need to empower people, of all ages, sexes and backgrounds to feel confident in asking for help.
Understanding how to help someone, recognising the signs within yourself and in others and breaking down the barriers to accessing care is absolutely pivotal. You have the power- use it!
If you are struggling, please reach out for help – you absolutely deserve this time for you and your recovery.
Written by Cherith Janes, Daisy Smith and Georgina Morgillo of St Thomas More Catholic School, Bedford