The next interview will you show a mother´s strength to raise awareness about eating disorders. She could be any mother in this world. She is Debbie Roche and she is trainer with Plymouth and District Mind and also supports the organisation with its promotions, events and publicity. Apart from being an Associate Trainer for Plymouth Mind she is a former Health and Social Care lectures.
She possesses a PGCE in Post16 Education and Training. She is also an accredited Mental Health First Aid Trainer. She has delivered many curriculum based courses as well as numerous awareness courses throughout the year, for example, equality and diversity. However, she has written and delivers, a one-day Introduction to Eating Disorders Awareness course.
In our meeting with Debbie, she was delighted to answer to our questions.
- Debbie, can you introduce yourself?
I am an Associate Trainer with Plymouth and District Mind and also support the organisation with its promotions, events and publicity.
- Why did you decide to get involved in Plymouth Mind?
It wasn't so much a decision, more of natural progression. I have lived experience of mental distress, as we all have to some extent. My work for the Plymouth Mental Health Network is based at Plymouth Mind so I think it was natural to help Plymouth Mind along the way.
- How could you help your son?
As soon as my (then teenage) son was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa the first thing I did was to read anything and everything I possibly could about the condition. I wanted to understand not only the illness but also be prepared to do my piece for his recovery. When my son was discharged from the young people's psychiatric hospital there was little to no support for me as a carer. The South West generally was pretty dire for eating disorder support so I set up the support and information group NotEDuk. Initially this group campaigned for a dedicated eating disorder unit in Plymouth but progressed onto other eating disorder related things. Throughout the course of his recovery I think the most important factor was him knowing that I loved him unconditionally - and that whatever the condition and recovery process was going to throw at us I would always be around.
- How do you think Plymouth Mind can be aware of bulimia, anorexia, eating disorders…?
Plymouth Mind is becoming quite forward thinking in terms of awareness and training. From October Plymouth Mind will be offering monthly eating disorder awareness courses, this is a fantastic step. Also, Plymouth Mind effectively utilizes its website and social media so I think it is contributing very well to raising awareness.
- How is your contribution every day?
I work towards combating the myths and misconceptions surrounding eating disorders wherever possible, and to as wide an audience as possible. Although the media has been a useful tool there is nothing better than personally sharing lived experiences with others.
- What is the message you want to tell the world about this type of problem?
First and foremost I would like to emphasize to the world that eating disorders are complex, psychological illnesses that can affect anyone, anywhere in the world. They are not lifestyle choices and should certainly be taken very seriously. People should be mindful that someone living with an eating disorder is not attention seeking they need the attention of appropriately trained and well-versed professionals. Eating disorders are the most fatal of psychological conditions and everyone should be made aware of the heartache, pain and distress that they impose on the lives of not only the sufferer but also individuals and communities associated with the sufferer.