This means young people at risk of developing or at the beginning of an eating disorder might not get the help they need until they are at the more severe end of the spectrum.
Signs a young person might have an eating disorder
If you’re working with a child, it might be harder to spot the early signs of an eating disorder. As a professional you might pick up on the following:
Routinely forgetting their lunch or throwing most of it away
Restricting what foods or snacks they eat
Asking to go to the bathroom after eating
Appearing tired easily or fainting
Excessive water drinking
Appearing withdrawing or isolating themselves
Being bullied, especially around weight or body image
Struggling with transition – moving home, school, exams
Difficulties at home or with friends
Supporting a young person with an eating disorder
A young person diagnosed with an eating disorder might be reluctant with their treatment and recovery plans. As a professional working with them, it might take them some time before they accept help and support.
Support you can give:
Talk to the young person, and their parents if appropriate, to ask what support they would like.
Provide them with somewhere they can eat separated if they want. You might need to sit with them to make sure they eat a certain amount.
Be aware of the young person’s triggers or signs they are struggling.
If they have been in hospital, had an education break or not seen their peers for some time, this might cause some anxiety.
Therapy is often a recommended treatment for eating disorder, the young person may need time to attend or may ask to speak to a professional they trust if they need to talk to someone.
Never promise to keep information confidential or a secret if a young person discloses they have an eating disorder.
Always follow up any concerns you have for a young person and work in their best interests.