Final SMEN meeting of 2021 focuses on eating disorders

23rd November 2021

The final Swindon Mindful Employer Network (SMEN) meeting of 2021 was kicked off by SG Mind’s Yazmin Taylor.

Yazmin reflected on a busy year for the Network in the wake of the pandemic, before welcoming Emma Lydon, founder of Kind to Mind as the first guest speaker.

Emma started Kind to Mind to raise awareness of eating disorders and how people use food as a coping mechanism.

Emma experienced an eating disorder herself between the age of 11-19, but was unable to access professional support due to the BMI criteria adopted by health authorities, which, she argues, has led to people in need slipping through the net.

She challenged the commonly held perception that anorexia is the most common eating disorder. Only 19% of all those suffering with an eating disorder have anorexia, Emma added, making clear the distinction between eating disorders and disordered eating.

Emma said that eating disorders are typically part of a broader pattern of behaviour, including the use of drugs and alcohol after work, avoidance, compulsive spending and bingeing, all of which are unhealthy coping mechanisms.

She said that those suffering from an eating disorder need to be encouraged to adopt healthy coping mechanisms such as:

• Talking therapies

• Social connection

• Exercise and movement

• Getting out in nature

• Meditation

• Exercising self-expression

• Mindfulness

• Stress management

Emma went on to talk about what she called the ‘train station analogy’ for managing mental health. “Every train that comes past represents your thoughts,” she said, “you can’t control the trains that past, but can choose which one you get on.”

For business, Kind to Mind will be bringing out a specialist guide in the form of an ebook early in the new year said Emma.

The second guest speaker was Clair Hodgson EMEA Director, Facilitator and Coach of How Do You Do It, which provides virtual and in-person coaching and programmes to support working parents, carers, and their managers.

How Do You Do It was set up to help employees and employers adjust to life as a working parent or carer. Having children is a big life change, said Clair, and one that can have an adverse impact on mental health.

This came into sharp focus during the pandemic she said, with 40% of working parents struggling with mental health in lockdown.

Clair went on to talk about the steps employees and employers can take to improve their mental health, which has business benefits in terms of motivation and retention.

The final speakers were from the Swindon Inclusion and Diversity Network.

Founders Emma Feltham, Head of IT Delivery, National Trust, Nicole Hardiman, IT Engineering Manager, Nationwide Building Society and Claire Farrow, Inclusion and Diversity Client Partner, Outsource UK joined the online meeting to give an overview of what the network was set up to achieve.

The Swindon Inclusion and Diversity Network is a free, member only, network. It is aimed at business leaders, HR Directors, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Professionals, and anyone with the desire and power to effect change within their organisation.

Summarising the key takeaways from the meeting Yazmin Taylor brought it to a close and invited SMEN members to join us for the upcoming January event.

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