Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
Information for family and friends
It can be hard to know when to ask your GP or school nurse for help – maybe you worry you’d be wasting their time, or it would mean admitting that there is a problem. However, people are more likely to get better if they ask for help early so don’t hesitate to ask for help if you’re worried: eating disorders are serious illnesses and can be life-threatening.
It can be helpful to talk things over with a supportive friend, or to speak to the eating disorder charity b-eat. Their helplines offer support and information about eating disorders and difficulties with food, weight, and shape, but to access healthcare you need to see a professional. Eating disorders are hard to fight alone: as one account of recovery notes, “it is important to understand that an eating disorder cannot be conquered by you alone” (Arnold & Walsh, 2007, in ‘Next to Nothing’).
In the UK, general practitioners (GPs) are the first step to accessing specialist support. For children at school, you (or they) could also approach the school nurse for help. It can be difficult to be honest about exactly what might be bothering you but the more information your GP has, the more easily they will be able to find you the right help. You can also speak to a GP if you are worried about a loved one although, due to issues around confidentiality, there will be limits on what they can share with you.
If you notice any of the following, medical assessment is crucial:
If your child sees the family doctor he/she will talk to the young person, assess their physical health, and usually do a blood test.
Last updated: 2 April, 2019