A mental health campaigner has called for more awareness around eating disorders following the death of a reality TV star last week.
Hope Virgo has described the death of Big Brother star Nikki Grahame as ‘heart-breaking’ but said it was ‘a stark reminder’ of the dangers of eating disorders.
Grahame died last Friday (April 9) aged 38, after a long and public battle with anorexia.
Ms Virgo, author and founder of #DumpTheScales said:”Over the weekend the tragic and absolutely heart-breaking news of Nikki Grahame passing away was announced.
“Nikki’s case is not an isolated incident but something that happens every single day, with eating disorders having the highest mortality rate out of any psychiatric illness.”
The reality TV star, who was a contestant on the seventh series of Big Brother UK in 2006, checked into a private hospital last month after her eating disorder worsened in lockdown.
She had previously written two books Dying To Be Thin in 2009 and Fragile in 2012 about her experiences with the illness.
Her mother Sue Grahame told ITV’s This Morning last week that Nikki’s condition deteriorated after the gyms closed. Mrs Grahame said lockdown had been “hellish” and had “floored” her daughter.
There has been an outpouring of sadness following the Grahame’s death that has sparked a conversation on social media about the struggles many eating disorder sufferers have been facing during lockdown.
Over 1.6 million people in the UK have an eating disorder which campaigners say has increased from previous years due to pressures from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Virgo said: “Recent data has shown that the numbers of eating disorder cases are on the rise across the country.
“From isolation, to uncertainty eating disorders have been thriving during the pandemic and hearing more stories of people not getting support, people losing their lives to eating disorders is a daily occurrence at the moment.
“50 per cent of people with an eating disorder make a full recovery, 30 per cent partially recover and 20 per cent remain chronically ill for the rest of their life; this for me is a sign that something isn’t working when it comes to treatment.
“Nikki Grahame’s death is a stark reminder of the current situation for eating disorders across the UK, an illness that has the highest mortality rate out of any psychiatric illness.
I am sick of the fact that people are dying everyday of eating disorders when they are preventable a d treatable illnesses. It is heartbreaking and a complete injustice!
— Hope Virgo (@HopeVirgo) April 10, 2021
“We must learn from this death, services are currently massively underfunded, there is still a huge misunderstanding around eating disorders and also a huge amount of stigma which stops people reaching out for support.
“On top of this there is not enough money going to in to research.
“With the right funding, pathways, training in place eating disorders can be treated.”
More information about eating disorders can be found here.
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