MGEDT Peer Support Group - Good Practice Example

Peer Support Group Practice Example‘Men Get Eating Disorders Too’ Peer Support Group in Brighton and Hove was set up in September 2009 in response to the lack of support services available to men who are affected by eating and exercise disorders. To our knowledge there are no other groups that are exclusively for men in the country at present.

We set up the group after several guys getting in contact with us following the launch of the website (www.mengetedstoo.co.uk) in Spring 2009. It was apparent that many of the guys were unable to get support, mostly because the guys felt as though the conditions they had were considered to be ‘female conditions’ and feared not being taken seriously by health professionals. Some of the guys we have been in contact with had been to generic groups and had been the only male member enforcing feelings of isolation. Other guys we had been in contact with weren’t keen (or ready) to seek professional help but wanted to meet with other guys alike.

Having identified this need we sought funding from Scarman Can Do Health Fund and Co-operative to pilot a monthly meeting space.  We felt as though peer support would be the better way to describe the group because we thought this would be more inclusive of the guy wherever they are on the spectrum of recovery. We felt ‘self help’ would imply you have to be thinking of recovery, which not all the guys were ready for. Moreover ‘peer support’ sounds more friendly, relaxed and possibly more engaging with men.

The Peer Support group is for men of all ages, backgrounds and sexualities with the aim to ease the isolation and secrecy they experience. The meetings are led by two facilitators – one of whom has experienced and eating disorder himself and the other an is a counsellor from the Men’s Counselling Service.

For each meeting we aim to have a different theme (so far themes have included: food and mood; benefits of alternative therapies in the treatment of eds and the benefits of hypnotherapy). Where possible we will have a guest speaker to talk about the month’s theme if its in relation to a therapeutic support (e.g. for food and mood we had an eating disorder dietician). The idea behind this is to give the group members fresh insight, which may help them in their pathways to recovery.

To date we have had 14 guys attend the group and is growing now it is becoming established. The guys feedback has been hugely positive so far with several of the guys going onto get professional help via the NHS or considering getting help.