Waiting Times In Eating Disorder Treatment

I wrote a post about this a few months ago but as a media volunteer for Beat, I took part in their waiting times survey about my experiences and today it has been revealed that a large amount of people have waited for treatment for more than six months. The charity are now calling  on the government to do more to help people with eating disorders.

Susan Ringwood, the chief executive of Beat says “Eating disorders are fatal in up to 20% of cases. That’s the highest death rate of any mental illness. We know that when people have to wait a long time for treatment, their illness can get worse. In the most serious cases, people’s lives can be lost. We were shocked to find that 26% of the people we spoke to had waited more than six months. We want clear waiting times to be set, so people can know when their treatment is going to start.”

Waiting lists for any treatment does really get to me because it is as if they want the sufferer to get more ill. I understand why there are waiting lists but for eating disorder treatment, it can be even more difficult for the sufferer and their family and for some, the waiting list is around 8 months to a year and by then, the sufferer may get severely ill.

After being discharged from one unit, I had to wait a year to get assessed for another one and I was not getting any better whilst waiting. In fact, I got severely worse to the point where I just wanted to die and could not even function anymore. Even drinking water seemed like a scary concept. When you do eventually get help after waiting for a long time, you just feel like you are past help, which explains why it is so hard to get better. The longer you leave a patient waiting, the harder it is to get better. All the sufferer wants is help whether they admit it or not.

Care minister Norman Lamb says this has to be a “very urgent priority”. He says “In mental health, we don’t even know how long people are waiting, That’s why this survey is of great value, because it demonstrates the seriousness of the problem. I want to get to a point where, by 2015, we introduce access standards, so that people know how long they should be expected to wait as a maximum” but he admits that he does not know whether he will achieve that yet but will try.

Another thing I would like to point out is that eating disorders are mental illnesses but some specialist units focus merely on monitoring the weight, behaviours and the intake and of course that is the main issue that does need to be dealt with first but some units, not all, do not provide proper psychological help straight away. They just give you a few antidepressants and that is it. I feel like if I get my head sorted out first, then perhaps I would do better in terms of recovery. But, of course they put you on a waiting list and more waiting lists and more waiting lists. I do not understand how I can get better if proper therapy is not put in place. Eating means nothing if you are not mentally better.

I think treatment should be offered at the first sign of an eating disorder. As soon as a patient shows signs of an eating disorder, they should put in place a therapist, a dietitian, a psychiatrist, a nurse – everything they will need in order for the patient to get better. When you have eating disorder, all you need is the right support and sometimes I feel like I am not getting that which does hinder my chances of recovery.

Conservative Party Conference 2013: Osborne “We have a serious plan for a grown-up country”

At his speech today in the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Chancellor George Osborne set out what he called a “serious plan for a grown-up country”.

Sporting a new haircut and speaking in a rather mature and serious tone, he said Britain’s economy was turning a corner, but admitted that cutting the deficit was a big concern. He said the “battle to turn Britain around, is not even close to being over. We are going to finish what we have started.”

He said his aim was to achieve a financial ‘surplus’ in the next parliament and to grow capital spending in line with GDP.

The big plan was of course his help to work scheme – which will put the long-term unemployed into work before they receive any benefits. No work, no benefits. He said: “No one will be ignored or left without help but no one will get something for nothing” which of course is a typical Conservative aim unlike Labour.

“Help to work – and in return work for the dole. Because a fair welfare system is fair to those who need it and fair to those who pay for it too” he told conference.

A political speech would not be complete or even normal without a few jokes and some digs at other parties. Making the conference laugh, he took a swipe at both the Liberal Democrats and Labour, including the Miliband brothers. He described Ed and David as “the greatest sibling rivalry since the Bible. Cain and not-very-able.”

He hit back at Labour’s plan to tackle the “cost of living” crisis. He said: “What matters most for living standards are jobs and low mortgage rates and lower taxes.” He then added: “without a credible economic plan, you simply don’t have a living standards plan.”

He said that the Conservatives had done more than any other party for small business owners and added: “We are nothing, if we are not the party for small business.”

His speech was rather positive although it was not as enthusiastic as Ed Balls’ speech at the Labour Conference last week. Osborne was thinking to the future instead of wallowing in past mistakes. He still has a lot to prove and still has a long way to go to win over the public to his policies. He and David Cameron hope to, as the Tories always say, “clean up the mess” that Labour have left. Sticking to the same tune like they always do. Is Osborne out of touch or is the mess that Labour left actually the problem of this economic slowdown?

Labour Party Conference 2013: Miliband “We’re Britain…we’re better than this.”

One Nation Labour was created by Ed Miliband exactly a year ago. Today, he brought it back.

At his speech at the Labour Party conference in Brighton today, his main slogan was “Britain can do better than this….we are better this.” The way he tried to show that Labour can do better than this if they win the next general election is by pledging quite unique policies, such as freezing gas and electricity prices until the start of 2017. He said energy firms had been overcharging for too long and it was time to reset the market. “Your bills will be frozen, benefiting millions of families and millions of businesses. That’s what I mean by a government that fights for you. That’s what I mean when I say Britain can do better than this.”

This speech seemed to be something that Miliband wanted to stick to people’s minds. He wanted people to remember why he is the leader of the Labour Party and why Labour should be back in government. The way he did that was again, starting a slogan, a catchphrase, that he kept on repeating throughout the speech in hopes that people will listen. Once again, he had no script. Memorising his whole speech like last year, he spoke with enthusiasm and passion.

“Race to the top” was a phrase that he repeated many times after saying how the Tories are always failing and going down instead of up. He said “We’ve never believed in the race to the bottom. We believe in the race to the top.”

He stuck to what he believes about not going to war, referring to the chemical weapons debate in Syria.

After admitting that he was never someone who is “macho” on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, he did take quite a U-turn and almost tried to be macho at this speech. He said “Here’s the thing about David Cameron: He may be strong when it comes to the weak. But he’s always weak when it comes to the strong.” Claiming that Labour can do a better job than the Tories. he had a message for them.  He said “If they want to have a debate about leadership and character, be my guest.”

He quite rightly pointed out all the things that Cameron has done wrong in this Coalition. He told the conference that Cameron sided with the Murdoch’s, tobacco lobbyists and millionaires. He said Cameron introduced the bedroom tax but Labour will repeal.

He also talked about mental health stigma and why we should be able to talk about it openly. “It’s an afterthought in our health system,” he told the conference audience.  This is not a policy as such but he is absolutely right. Mental health issues is never talked about as often as it should be. It is something that matters. After receiving a letter from a 17 year old who suffers from anxiety and depression, he said we should be able to talk about this stuff as it does happen.

On the subject of health, he then went onto talk about the NHS.  “It is the same old story: We rescue the NHS. The Tories wreck it. We have to rescue it all over again. And we will.”

This speech was full of policies after polices. Like last year, he pledged to do many things, but the question is always this – Will he be able to deliver? Is this all talk to win voters or is Ed Miliband the future prime minister we all dream of?

How I Got Into Journalism & Advice On How To Get Into Journalism

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People often ask me how I got into journalism so I thought I would do a blog post on it about both broadcast and print journalism and my top tips on how to get into journalism yourself.

I actually have no idea how I got into journalism to be honest because I just sort of fell into it. I did not ever say, “When I grow up, I want to be a journalist.” Not really.  I wanted to be a teacher (as most kids do), a singer, a dancer….I knew I always wanted to work in the media industry, specifically music but that has died down now and I will talk about that a bit more in a bit.

I always remember being fascinated by the news and what is going on in the world. When I was little, I watched and listened to newsreaders on TV and on the Radio and tried to imitate them. I always wondered what it would be like to be a newsreader, a TV presenter or a radio presenter…but I always felt like I could never be those things because of my lack of confidence and so I just turned to writing and music instead, which was easier as I am not much of a speaker.

Writing has always been one of my main passions. I can articulate myself better in writing rather than speaking. I used to keep a diary. My diary went everywhere with me. It was a very useful way of letting my feelings out. It kind of was my only friend – do excuse the cliché. The reason why, was because I always felt rather misunderstood and so when I wrote things down, I felt like I was getting it all off my chest and therefore felt better. Also, my diary (along with music) was a big part of my life when I was being bullied and my times in psychiatric units. It helped, a lot.

There has been a lot of studies showing a correlation between creativity and mental illnesses and I can definitely vouch for that. Writing has always been a release for me.

I would not say my favourite subject in school was English, however I did get a good grade in my English GCSE and I enjoyed a lot of the coursework. I love writing essays. I remember writing a GCSE English essay about something to do with the media and I got an A on that piece – my first ever A that I have ever got in my life and I was proud of it. I then realised that I am rather good at writing. I was praised by teachers saying how well written my essays are and that really gave me a bit of confidence – I actually was good at something.

Because I enjoyed music and had a passion for radio, I wanted to work in music radio or become a music journalist writing for a magazine. I started a blog and wrote about music – reviewing music/bands etc… but I just was not happy with it. I did not feel like I was getting anywhere with it and I did not enjoy it.

During my stint at BBC Radio 4 , I really got into news and politics. I met rather intellectual people everyday there such as newsreaders, producers, journalists, presenters, philosophers, politicians and authors. It was then when I felt like this is what I want to do. I want to make news and current affairs programmes for a speech radio station such as Radio 4. I want to create news and inform people.

Music really at that point, did not matter to be anymore. Well, of course it mattered but not in a career sense. I love music and always will, but I do not want to work in that industry anymore.

I remember a lot of the Tony Blair years. I was only little but the Blair era stood out as a lot of things happened in that Labour government, overshadowed by the Iraq war. News was on everyday in the house and Blair was not that popular in our house. Gordon Brown years were absolutely ridiculous too. I was not heavily into politics then but Brown absolutely destroyed the government.

However, when I visited the Houses of Parliament and saw how the House of Commons looks in real life – I pretty much fell in love with it.

I am following the Coalition government very closely and since Radio 4 and my time at LBC, I have quite an obsession with politicians and how they think, how they act, their policies. I have developed this kind of analytical mind about politicians and I love writing about UK politics. I actually would love to work at Westminister as a politician’s assistant. How weird. I do not support and have never supported a particular party because being a journalist has taught me to be impartial. I would not want to be political journalist though as I love writing about various things, as you can see by this blog.

Putting politics aside, I have realised that I love storytelling, I love writing, I love reading and I love meeting interesting people. I love informing people about certain issues. It does take a lot of guts to do what with having issues with anxiety but in order to be a journalist, you have to talk which is what I am working on and journalism is my own personal journey to getting better and conquering a lot of fears.

Something that has helped me emotionally has become something that I made into a job now, which is absolutely amazing.

So, these are my top tips if you want to become a journalist yourself…

Be Passionate

Obviously, if you want to become a journalist, you really have to know your stuff – you have to be on the ball all the time – watching, listening and reading the news everyday. Attend events. Go to the scene of the crime. Take notes. You have to be passionate about news and getting a story out there.

Write

Start a blog and write whatever you are passionate about. I do not write about something that I am not interested in. I write about something that really interests me and if I have something to say.

Read

If you know me, you would know that newspapers have always been something that I have read ever since I was little. I love newspapers and I have a collection of newspapers (mostly The Independent), including magazines too. Read as much as you can. Books, newspapers, magazines, online articles etc… It really helps with learning.

Work Experience/Internships/Graduate Trainee Schemes

I do not think I would be a journalist now if I have never done a work placement at a place as big as the BBC. You must have some kind of work experience in order to get some practical skills. Apply at the BBC, your local radio station, magazine, newspaper – anywhere to get your foot in the door.

If you have graduated from university, apply for Graduate schemes. The BBC provide a Journalism Trainee Scheme. Many top journalists have been on that scheme.

University

Not everyone who is a journalist is a graduate but most journalists that I have met have some kind of degree behind them. Most top journalists have a postgraduate degree but of course, that is not essential. It is good to have a degree anyway – it will definitely be easier to get a job in the field.

Volunteer

If you are at university, volunteer at your student radio station or write for your student magazine. Get involved with your community radio station or your community magazine. Get a few articles published and keep them for your portfolio.

Have Ideas, Be Creative and Most of All Learn How To Write A Good Pitch

When you are a journalist, you have to constantly write pitches to Editors. It could be for a newspaper, a magazine, a radio station and television. I was not prepared for the amount of pitches I will need to write. Everyone wants an idea. Something unique. You need to be creative and you need to learn how to write a good pitch. When I feel like I am good at pitches, I will be sure to write a blog post on it.

And Finally…Be Persistent

You will get a lot of rejections. There is no question about that. You will just have to keep on going. It takes a long time to get to where you want. You cannot give up!

Liberal Democrat Conference 2013: Clegg “I want us to stay in government.”

The Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Glasgow came to an end today after Nick Clegg’s rather confident and engaging speech. These last five days have been a great few days for Clegg and his party and today, his speech rounded the conference up remarkably well.

There was a theme to his speech. It was focused more on them trying to stay in government and how Lib Dems should be represented in government rather than on anything else, although he touched on many relative issues such as Syria and the EU.

He spoke with pride as he mentioned the legality of gay marriage and about the growing economy. He said “The country is growing stronger by the day. Stable, successful coalition. The recovery wouldn’t be happening without us.” However, he spoke about joining forces with either parties again and said  “Labour would wreck the recovery. The Conservatives would give us the wrong kind of recovery. Only the Liberal Democrats can finish the job and finish it in a way that is fair.”

One thing what he said that stood out to most people was that he identified his party as a party that is different to Labour and the Conservatives. “The Liberal Democrats are not some subset of the Labour or Tory parties. We have our own values, our own liberal beliefs”

He did not announce any new policies after yesterday’s big announcement on free lunches for all children in their first three years at school in England, to which perhaps he thought would be a great way to bring in more Lib Dem voters, as in more families.

He spoke about his own family. His personal beliefs. His education. His wife. How he likes to keep Westminister and his personal life private. How he sees Ed Miliband and David Cameron personally, not just politically.

This speech clearly showed that Clegg wants voters to see that they are not going anywhere. People thought that the Coalition would be a disaster but he said the Lib Dems have proved them wrong. They can in fact, handle a government and people need to have a bit more faith in them. The speech was about him as a leader, a prime minister to-be and not just a deputy.

He tried to show that the Lib Dems are not weak and that things are working the way that it should be and the Lib Dems are now at where they should have been before.

But was this enough? Has he won over voters or has he just made people interpret his bid to stay in government in a different way – such as if you do not vote for me this time round, then I will resign.

“Fantastic leader, not the most vibrant” says Blunkett

Labour leader Ed Miliband has been getting pressure from every angle recently from voters saying he should not lead the party in the next General Election along with his Labour peers saying he needs to work even harder to win back voters.

Today, two senior Labour figures expressed their concern about Labour’s problems in getting their message across to voters.

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett compared Miliband to former post-war Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee who he said was a “fantastic leader” but “wasn’t the most vibrant” public performer.

Former Chancellor, Alistair Darling also raised concerns that the party have not done much to get a clear message across to voters. Speaking to BBC’s Hard Talk programme, he said “I think everybody in my party is pretty focused on the fact that come this Autumn you need to start making it pretty clear to people what would the difference be if you come to the general election and vote for a different government.”

Miliband is now struggling to get back in control after complaints have also been made within the party over the shadow Cabinet’s failure to maintain a higher profile over the summer.

David Blunkett also expressed his concerns over Labour’s problems in connecting with the public by mentioning the recent complaint made by Lord Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister, that Labour had “massively failed” by not “holding the Tories to account.”

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme “There is frustration, but there is also a great deal of hope. I would accept what’s been said over the last few weeks, including the article by John Prescott on Sunday, that we need to work out how to get a higher profile in circumstances where it is very difficult to get a hearing.”

The ICM survey for The Daily Mirror shows that 46% of voters are backing Miliband to lead the party in 2015, while 34% think he is the wrong person for the leader role.

There are still people supporting him yet many are unsure whether he is strong enough for the role. Miliband should now find a new strategy to win back voters come the 2015 General Election or else Labour could possibly be in big trouble.

London 2012 Olympics – One Year On

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This weekend marks the one year anniversary of the London 2012 Olympic Games and more than two-thirds of the UK public think that it was well worth the £8.77bn that was spent on it. But what have we learnt from the games and did it leave a legacy?

Indeed, a legacy has been left. For me, I believe we etched ‘London’ into people’s ears as a praised city. ‘Well done for putting on a wonderful event.” is often said to us Londoners all the time since the games.

In a sense, it brought us all closer together and not just Londoners. The games brought the whole of the United Kingdom closer together. We all learnt to help our community and do more for it. We learnt to not let dreams stay as dreams. Seeing the successes of our very own Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins etc… it taught us to never give up on our dream, whatever that dream may be.

It also taught us not be a cynic and have faith in our city. I can hold my hands up to that. Before the Olympics, being the usual Londoner that I am, I thought the Olympics would go belly-up. I never thought we would have left that much of a legacy but we have and it is amazing.

It helped the local economy in more ways than we ever thought. It made young people to take up sport instead of staying on the streets. It did give us a meaning and we are all just thriving in the legacy because London has never been the same since.

On a personal level, I believe it has done wonders to the local area. Growing up here, I have seen it all ever since I was young. From a drudgery part of East London, quite a disadvantaged, working-class area, I have seen it become a wonderful and stunning touristy area in just 7 years.

When it was in the making, our community was so excited yet nervous because of our expectation of the Olympic Park and the surrounding area was very high indeed and thankfully it met our expectations and one year on, East London is still glowing and the legacy of the Olympic Games is shining through.