If you are affected by any of the issues in this story, Beat offers support with a helpline (0808 801 0677) and website.
Over the weekend, we all learned the very sad news that Nikki Grahame - a reality TV fan favourite since appearing on Big Brother in 2006 - had passed away. Nikki, 38, had been struggling with anorexia since her childhood - but lockdown had caused her condition to deteriorate, and her friends had recently crowdfunded so Nikki could receive care at a private facility.
Last month, Nikki's mum, Susan, had spoken about how Nikki was struggling spending time alone, with gyms also being closed. 'It sounds crazy but even stuff like gyms closing, which is quite important to Nikki as she needs to know she can exercise,' Susan said on This Morning. 'The isolation, she couldn't see anyone. I offered to stay with her but she said ''I need to stay in my own home''. It's been really hard for her, really hard. She had terminal loneliness... she was cut off, spending too much time on her own, and nothing to think about other than food.'
Susan also explained why her friends had made the decision to go public with a fundraising appeal, as they 'haven't had much help with the NHS'. 'It was run by me a day or two before by Nikki's friends. I was apprehensive,' she said. 'First of all we were desperate, we haven't had much help with the NHS, we had one place, she had been failed there five or six times.'
Anorexia is an insidious, devastating disease, and sufferers of eating disorders will know that it can be difficult to get treatment. Last December, the BMJ reported a coroner called for urgent changes to eating disorder services after concluding that 19 year old student Averil Hart (who had anorexia) died in 2012 because of gross and systemic NHS failures and neglect.
It's estimated by ED charity Beat that 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder. However, during the pandemic, more people have been seeking help and treatment, with Beat previously saying they were worried about **'**an avalanche of people who will be going to the NHS for help'. Now, more than ever, there needs to be more help for those struggling. Nikki's friends should not have had to raise money for her treatment.
As Labour MP Zarah Sultana tweeted, 'Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness - yet far too many people are unable to access the support they need. We desperately need more funding for mental health & eating disorder services in the NHS. No-one should have to crowdfund for treatment.'
If you are affected by any of the issues in this story, Beat offers support with a helpline (0808 801 0677) and website****.