Eating disorders involve a disturbance of eating habits or weight-control behaviour which result in the impairment to physical health or which affects a young person’s psychological and/or social functioning.
Young people with eating disorders over-evaluate their body shape and weight and link this directly to their feelings of self-worth. Some young people lose considerable amounts of weight and see this as positive success and have no desire to change. Other young people will match periods of under-eating with periods of over-eating, so that normal weight may be maintained.
A young person may be experiencing difficulties at school and particularly be receiving critical comments about their weight or body shape from their peers. There may be pressure to be slim or maintain a particular weight or shape due to a young person’s hobbies or job and the young person may be experiencing relationship difficulties. Young people can also be particularly affected by family issues, such as the illness of a close relative, bereavement and conflicts with care givers. Some young people also have perfectionist tendencies or have particularly low levels of self-esteem.
At home, a young person with an eating disorder may commonly avoid eating with their family, be highly focussed on exercise, count calories or be careful to check nutritional information, eat more than usual between meals, be more secretive than usual and wear baggier clothes than normal. For young people who are binge-eating, care givers may also notice food being hidden or going missing.
At school, a young person may avoid eating with friends or anywhere in public and may discard packed lunches or spend lunch times over-exercising. As a result of less food intake, a young person may appear more lethargic or struggle to concentrate in lessons and avoid or over-enthuse in, PE lessons.
Delegates attending a 2-day Youth Mental Health First Aid Course, with Head First Ltd, will look closely at several forms of eating disorder, including: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Atypical eating disorders, and consider the signs and symptoms, risk factors, warning signs and recommended Mental Health First Aid approaches. In addition, the course manual (included for all delegates to take away after the course) contains many helpful resources, publications, organisations and self-help strategies to help a young person with eating disorders.