Speaker bios

Dave Chawner (Host): Dave is an award-winning comedian, published author and eating disorders campaigner. Having had lived experience of anorexia he uses comedy to remove the shame around mental health and help engage, educate and inform people in a very unique way.

Debbie Roche (Chairperson): Debbie, mother of three, is a former Health and Social Care Lecturer. Her career path changed direction when her youngest son was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Believing that education was the best weapon for her to use against the monstrous condition, Debbie turned her focus on eating disorders and mental health.

An accredited MHFA England Instructor for MHFA Adult and Lite courses and former Associate Trainer for the local Mind organisation, Debbie now delivers a series of mental health and wellbeing courses through her social enterprise Snapshot Mental Health (www.snapshotmentalhealth.com).

Debbie believes the combination of her theoretical knowledge and personal journey with her son through the battle with anorexia, adds extra value to the courses she delivers.

As a social activist and mental health and suicide prevention campaigner, Debbie believes in tackling discrimination, social injustice and stigma. She founded NotED (No to Eating Disorders) www.noteduk.com, an eating disorder support and information group, which was borne from the inequitable experiences of caring for her son living with anorexia. She authored Anorexia: A Son’s Battle, A Mother’s War, a book also based on her experiences and learning throughout her son’s struggles.

Debbie has extensive experience as a board member. Her previous appointments include Healthwatch Plymouth and the Mental Health Strategic Quality Improvement Partnership. Currently she is a member of the Plymouth Suicide Prevention Partnership and the Project Advisory Board for the DeSTRESS project led by Exeter University.

Debbie is also Chair of Pembroke Estate Management Board and a Board member of Plymouth Community Homes.

Debbie is an experienced PR, events and conference coordinator.

Natasha Devon MBE (Keynote): Natasha  is a writer, campaigner & pundit. She is co-founder of the Self Esteem Team & founder of the Body Gossip Education Programme, both working in schools and colleges throughout the UK and beyond to help young people, their parents and teachers with mental health & body image challenges. She has authored several books, writes regularly for the Guardian and has a weekly column in the Times Educational Supplement. In 2016, the Sunday Times and Debrett’s named Natasha one of the 20 most influential people in British education.

Danny Bowman: ‘Danny Bowman is a mental health spokesperson at Parliament Street.

Danny Bowman started his own campaign with Fixers UK in 2013 on Body Dysmorphic Disorder subsequently his campaign went global and Danny appeared on tv all over the world raising awareness of the disorder.

Danny has written and complied two research papers on ‘Mental Health and the Social Media Society,’ and ‘A 21st Century Approach to Mental Health.’

Danny has spoken at conferences around the country on mental health and body image disorders including the 1st International BDD Foundation Conference.

Danny has worked alongside politicians of all political parties to forward to the cause of mental health.’

James Downs: James is originally from Cardiff and is currently studying Psychology at the University of Cambridge. He is a very dedicated and committed campaigner for improved mental health services and raising awareness of eating disorders, especially amongst men. His personal interest stems from his own wealth of experience – good and bad – of trying to access support for a severe eating disorder, which developed in his teenage years and lasted for over a decade. In total, James had to wait over 6 years for specialist eating disorder treatment, something he believes nobody should have to endure.

James’s work to improve services began locally; participating on various NHS committees, undertaking outreach with the student population and helping deliver training including lectures on Cardiff University courses. This work quickly went national, when James became the “Voice of Mind” for Wales, representing Mind for their General Election campaign in 2015 and engaging extensively on a political level. He has subsequently shared his story and insight at many conferences as a keynote speaker, also receiving high-profile national media coverage and writing for the Huffington Post.

As a central member of the Cross-Party Group for Eating Disorders at the Welsh Assembly, James’s involvement was key in calling for a review of the Eating Disorders Framework for Wales. This resulted in an increase in funding of over 50% per annum for specialist services in Wales. With NHS England, he has worked with leading experts in the field to write curricula and service specifications for child and adolescent eating disorders services, and sees how these are implemented on the ground as a member of the Clinical Network for Eating Disorders for the South East of England.

James is also a qualified yoga teacher, and is running a project teaching yoga one-to-one within a specialist community eating disorders service in Wales. This is representative of his belief in always considering the whole person, and the benefits of providing holistic support in a non-medicalised setting.

Scott Griffiths: Scott Griffiths is an Early Career Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Scott leads a grant-funded research programme on eating disorders and related phenomena among men, including muscle dysmorphia and anabolic-androgenic steroid dependence. Scott has given two TED talks on the topics of muscle dysmorphia and eating disorders, including in June 2017 at TEDxSydney and September 2017 at TEDxYouthSydney.

Jenny Langley: Since her son recovered from anorexia 13 years ago, Jenny has campaigned to raise awareness of eating disorders in boys and men, and also to provide practical help and support to families affected by eating disorders.

Through her website and book (www.boyanorexia.com and Boys Get Anorexia Too) Jenny provides support and hope to many families from all over the world who are struggling with a male eating disorder in their midst. For the past seven years Jenny has also worked closely with Sam Thomas at Men Get Eating Disorders Too to raise awareness and provide support in a proactive and sensitive manner.

Jenny is passionate about providing support to carers. Jenny and her husband facilitate a Beat affiliated carers support group in Kent. ( www.eda-westkent.org.uk). In addition, Jenny works closely with the Eating Disorder Research team of The Institute of Psychiatry, and is trained in the New Maudsley method. She has become an “expert carer” coach for the research programmes and delivers regular skills workshops for carers in Kent.

Jenny won the Beat Volunteer Recognition Award in 2014 for Outstanding Service to Education and Awareness, as well as the 2016 Royal College of Psychiatrists Award for Carer Contributor of the year.

Jenny is also an Associate Trainer for Beat and the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and is a Mental Health First Aid Youth Instructor. She delivers a wide range of sessions on eating disorders, body image and self-esteem, and the whole range of teenage mental health issues to students, school staff and parents.
Jenny lives in Kent and has six children.

Since her son recovered from anorexia 13 years ago, Jenny Langley has campaigned to raise awareness of eating disorders in boys and men, and also to provide practical help and support to families affected by eating disorders.

Through her website and book (www.boyanorexia.com and Boys Get Anorexia Too) Jenny provides support and hope to many families from all over the world who are struggling with a male eating disorder in their midst. For the past seven years Jenny has also worked closely with Sam Thomas at Men Get Eating Disorders Too to raise awareness and provide support in a proactive and sensitive manner.

Jenny is passionate about providing support to carers. Jenny and her husband facilitate a Beat affiliated carers support group in Kent. ( www.eda-westkent.org.uk). In addition, Jenny works closely with the Eating Disorder Research team of The Institute of Psychiatry, and is trained in the New Maudsley method. She has become an “expert carer” coach for the research programmes and delivers regular skills workshops for carers in Kent.

Jenny won the Beat Volunteer Recognition Award in 2014 for Outstanding Service to Education and Awareness, as well as the 2016 Royal College of Psychiatrists Award for Carer Contributor of the year.

Jenny is also an Associate Trainer for Beat and the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and is a Mental Health First Aid Youth Instructor. She delivers a wide range of sessions on eating disorders, body image and self-esteem, and the whole range of teenage mental health issues to students, school staff and parents.  Jenny lives in Kent and has six children.

Maggie Margan: Maggie Morgan is Director of Communications & Stakeholder Engagement at Fixers, a UK wide charity which supports young people to get their voices heard and valued on issues they have experienced to create positive social change for all. Her role, to raise the profile of Fixers through relationship and reputation building, incorporates strategies for political engagement, partnership creation and the dissemination of Fixers campaigns to as wide an audience as possible across local and national media and other channels and platforms. She led a nationwide campaign on eating disorders resulting in a dedicated ‘microsite’ where voices of young people and experts in the field aim to help others find information The Feel Happy Eating Fix.

Troy Roness: Troy has become a internationally-acclaimed writer, voice, and advocate since his 2009 recovery from a life-threatening addiction to exercise and eating disorder after a guest appearance on the “Dr. Phil Show.” He has been a dedicated activist and educator for eating disorders, faith, and healthy body image. Troy describes his motivation as “the simple act of paying his blessings forward.”

Troy serves as the Inaugural United States Male Representative for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Junior Board and four-term Secretary, Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) North Dakota, and is a featured speaker for Eating Disorder Hope. Previously, Troy executed duties as a former Advisory Board Member for the global eating disorders organization, MentorConnect, US Ambassador to the United Kingdom’s Men Get Eating Disorders Too (MGEDT) Organization, Education Director for NORMAL in Schools, Inc. – North Dakota, and Online Media Coordinator for the National Association of Males with Eating Disorders (NAMED).

With experience as an author, speaker, and advocate, Troy travels the country to speak on behalf of those affected by eating disorders and related issues to “put a name and face to the overwhelming issues affecting our generation, and strives to help others to make a difference.” He has a passionate voice for youth—helping to inspire, motivate, and foster hope.

With his strong desire for writing, Troy is currently completing is first book, writes his own column in the Huffington Post, blogs for PBS’ “This Emotional Life”, authors a section in “Psychology Today”. and has contributed to numerous national online publications concerning mental health.

In addition to his role as an advocate for health and education issues, Troy has held numerous local and governmental offices in the state of North Dakota.

Troy is currently in his second master’s program, studying Clinical Mental Health/School Counseling, and will finish in 2017. He previously obtained his bachelor’s degree in Health & Physical Education in 2008, and earned his first master’s degree in Education, Cognitive Science & Mind/Brain Research (Ed.M., C/S) in 2012.

Dr Rob Wilson: Dr Rob Willson PhD is a cognitive behaviour therapist based in North London, with a special interest in OCD, BDD and Health Anxiety. He currently divides the majority of his work time between seeing patients, conducting research, writing and teaching. He is currently the chair Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) Foundation, the world’s first charity exclusively devoted to BDD. Prior to building his own practice, Rob spent twelve years working at the Priory Hospital North London where he was a therapist and therapy services manager. He also trained and supervised numerous CBT therapists over a seven-year period working at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Rob has co-authored several books, including the bestselling ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies’ and ‘Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder’. His main clinical interests are anxiety and obsessional problems, and disseminating CBT principles through self-help. He has featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles and had made several TV and radio appearances.

Christine Sundgot-Borgen: Christine is 28 years old and lives in Oslo, Norway. Sundgot-Borgen, C. has a European Master (MSc.) (2011-2013) in Physical activity and Health, specializing in Physical activity in children and adolescents from The Norwegian School of Sport Sciences (NSSS). She graduated with the IOC diploma in sports nutrition (2014-2016) from the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, and studied Motivational Interviewing (2016) at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences. She has been a research assistant at different projects (2011- ) at the NSSS related to weight regulation in athletes, prevention of eating disorders in sports High Schools, and treatment of eating disorders through exercise and nutritional guidance interventions. She has been an assistant professor at The Arctic University of Norway (2014-2016) and the NSSS (2016- ) and works as a consultant with young upcoming and elite athletes educating and guiding them on sports nutrition (2014-2017). At present, she is a PhD candidate at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, at the department of Sports Medicine. The Norwegian Women’s Public Health Association is sponcering the PhD project (“The Healthy body image program”), which is a Universal School-based intervention study with a cluster-randomized controlled design. Christine was an elite athlete and part of the Norwegian national team in Rhythmic Gymnastics, and later an elite Freestyle-Disco Jazz dancer.

Kethe Marie Elgesem: Engen is 28 years old and lives in Oslo, Norway. Engen K.M.E. has an undergraduate degree in physical activity and health from The University College of Southeast Norway, Norwegian School of sports sciences (NSSS) and The University of Ottawa (2010-2013). She has a MSc. in sports medicine from NSSS (2015-2017), specializing in body composition and body dissatisfaction in women with eating disorders. During the last years, she has worked in the field of cardiac rehabilitation as a sport and exercise physiologist and as a research assistant in different project focusing on weight regulation, treatment trials and body image…. She also has years of experience from laboratory exercise testing, and the use of exercise and physical activity in treatment of eating disorders. She is now a PhD candidate at the NSSS, Department of Sports Medicine. The project is funded by The Extra Foundation Health and Rehabilitation, through The Norwegian Women’s Public Health Association. The PhD project “The healthy Body Image program” is a Universal School-based intervention study with a cluster randomized controlled design The main topic of her PhD is prevention of disordered eating in adolescent boys and girls.. Engen, K. M. E. is a competitive athlete in weight sensitive sports, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and submission wrestling.

'Men Get Eating Disorders Too' is a registered charity in England and Wales no. 1139351.

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