What to do if you suspect one of your students is struggling with an eating disorder

Mar 8, 2019 by

A teacher is not just a teacher. People do not go into teaching because they want to become famous or make a fortune. They do it out of the desire to help. Professors want to contribute to the community in a meaningful way. Helping students is indeed an invaluable contribution. When a student is struggling, a good teacher does not make comments. On the contrary, the educator gets their unwanted emotions under control and do everything possible to help the person. Schoolchildren are vulnerable to all sorts of psychological disorders that disturb their habits, including eating disorders. Evidence shows that there is a high prevalence of EDs in college populations. It is very important to understand how to support someone who is struggling with something as an eating disorder.

Types of eating disorders in adolescents and young adults

As an educator, it is normal to feel sad for the students that are struggling with an eating disorder. They are like your kids in the sense that there is an emotional tie connecting both of you. You have a deep emotional connection with your students and it is understandable that everything they do affects you. You might have seen that your schoolchild is behaving a little bit differently. You have reason to believe that they are developing an eating disorder. Youngsters who do not benefit from therapy like counselling do not stand a chance of getting better. No matter how uncomfortable you might feel to approach the subject, you have to. In the meantime, learn more about the main types of eating disorders that affect adolescents and young adults.

1.      Anorexia nervosa

Anorexia is a tiresome and terrible illness. It makes it impossible to enjoy meals anymore, not mention the sudden weight loss. A person that suffers from anorexia nervosa eats less than the body needs, which explains the substantial weight loss. The fear of gaining weight is too powerful, so the person does not even consider proper dieting. There are two subtypes of anorexia nervosa: the restricting type and the binge eating type. The latter has the tendency to eat more than normal and vomit. Treatment includes professional counselling and advice on proper nutrition.

2.      Bulimia nervosa

Similar to anorexia, bulimia nervosa is a life-threatening disease. What happens is that the eating disorder takes a toll on the emotional and physical health. Bulimics are tired all the time and they constantly complain of muscle pain. There is constant mental stress, the person experiencing depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive behaviours. Bulimia nervosa can do permanent damage. People that suffer from bulimia are not thin, which is the reason why the eating disorder is difficult to spot. It is a good idea to talk to the student, offer support, and tell them how to seek professional help.

Knowing for sure if a student has an eating disorder

In spite of the fact that eating disorders mainly affects students of higher institutions of educations, it is not uncommon for high school students to manifest abnormal or disturbed eating habits. This is a very sensitive time for youngsters. They live and breathe in a culture of high-achievement and perfectionism, not to talk about peer pressure. You cannot tell that there is something wrong with a student by simply looking at them. The weight of the person is within or even above the normal range for their age. It would come as a shock to you to discover that one of your pupils is ill. Individuals that suffer from compulsive eating or anorexia nervosa come in all sizes, shapes, races, and genders. The good news is that there are signs that can indicate a potential hazardous situation, such as:

  • Visible changes in performance or attitude
  • Forever talking about food or weight loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Missing school
  • No eating in the classroom

Maybe you do not personally know of any youngster that suffers from an eating disorder. Yes, but you have to take into account the possibility of it happening. If you happen to notice that someone in the classroom isolates themselves from others, is not able to fully concentrate during courses, or if you see any of the above-mentioned tell-tale signs, you should be concerned.

The power of counselling in eating disorders

You have the opportunity to be the first point of contact with the students and you should take advantage of it. If you identify warning signs of an eating disorder, talk to the pupil and encourage them to seek therapy. As a rule, eating disorders are complex mental health conditions. There are many factors involved, such as social, environmental, and psychological factors. Counselling is provided by a professional that specialises in eating disorders. The expert addresses the underlying causes and conditions. Once the counsellor gets a good understanding of the cause of the problem, they come up with a solution. Speaking up can feel frightening for the youngster. This might be so, but once the journey toward healing starts, nothing can go wrong. Not only is treatment available, but also recovery is totally possible.

Effective treatment enhances satisfaction of life. It does not just get rid of the symptoms. Therapy begins with a no-obligation evaluation with a professional that really cares and understands. The patient gets a good understanding of the situation and informs them what can be done. According to research, eating disorders do not go away on their own leaving them untreated can lead to serious consequences. Teachers can have a life-saving role, helping with early identification of abnormal behaviours and seeking professional treatment. Parents will be relieved that you noticed. Some might be upset that they were not the ones to identify the tell-tale signs. It does not matter. You will be doing the family a great deal of good. It is important to keep in mind that youngsters need guidance during their school years. They face pressure in several areas, so it should not come as surprise that they collapse. Perhaps you can convince the educational institution to implement an awareness program regarding Eds.

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