Eating disorders can manifest themselves in many ways: anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder – and shades in between. Anorexia is a frightening illness and has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Why does this issue mainly affect girls? Are boys who work out at the gym also affected? How can parents spot the signs and find ways to get help for their teen?

We’ve pulled together some resources that will help you better understand this debilitating illness.

A great place to start is to listen to our radio episode of Raising Teens. We had a fascinating discussion that looked at the realities of dealing with this mental illness and how it affects teenagers and their families.

🎧 Listen to Raising Teens: Eating disorders

🎧 Listen to Lola’s extended interview with a teen who’s experienced an eating disorder

Beat, the eating disorders charity, has created this brilliant site with loads of useful information and what you can do to help raise awareness.

Follow Beat on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Beat Helpline 0808 801 0677
Under-18s Youthline 0808 801 0711
Beat also offers Echo peer coaching 

The Hub of Hope, a national mental health database of organisations and charities across the country who offer local advice and support. Includes a Talk Now button connecting users directly to the Samaritans 

NHS advice and information about eating disorders

Raising Teens discussed eating disorders this week with amazing guests and teen contributions from those who have been through it. It was a fascinating discussion that looked at the realities of dealing with this mental illness and how it affects teenagers and their families.

Guests included Tom Quinn from eating disorder charity BEAT, Hope Virgo, campaigner and author, Mary Kemp, nurse and consultant and Nicky, the parent of a teen that had an eating disorder.

Hope Virgo’s #dumpthescales campaign argues “too often individuals are turned away from receiving essential support because they aren’t skinny enough to be considered at risk”. Join us and sign her petition calling on the government to review their guidance on eating disorders delivered by clinicians.

🔊 Listen to Raising Teens: Eating disorders

🔊 Listen to Lola’s extended interview with a teen who’s experienced an eating disorder

Here are our guests’ advice on helping a teen with an eating disorder

Hope Virgo

Go to your GP. Talk to your teenager and take them to your GP to try and access that support, because as soon as we start talking about it and get that support, we can get on the waiting list for CAMHS and you can start the process before the behaviours get so ingrained in that person’s head.

Mary Kemp

Don’t wait. Trust your instincts. You know when something’s not right with your child. Don’t tell yourself it’s nothing. Take action. Waiting doesn’t make it go away.

Tom Quinn

Early intervention is so important for eating disorders. If we delay the illness becomes ingrained and it’s much harder to treat. For any parents and carers out there worried about their loved ones, find a time soon to get alongside your loved one and talk to them about how they’re feeling and get that help that they probably need. 

Nicky

Trust your instincts. If you feel that there’s an issue, there probably is. Talk – try and confront the issue. Be prepared for lies. Be prepared for secretive behaviour. Try not to take it personally because it is a mental disorder and reach out to the experts available to try and help get to the bottom of that mental disorder and just be open and don’t be ashamed of the situation. It is a really emotional time for everyone concerned so allow yourself to be emotional and allow other people to be emotional.

Help & advice

BEAT, national eating disorder charity with information advice and national helpline
Helpline 0808 801 0677
Under-18s Youthline 0808 801 0711
Beat also offers Echo peer coaching 

The Hub of Hope, a national mental health database of organisations and charities across the country who offer local advice and support. Includes a Talk Now button connecting users directly to the Samaritans 

NHS advice and information about eating disorders