Mental Health in the Workplace Level 3 (VTQ)

62 videos, 2 hours and 49 minutes

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Eating disorders - professionals discussion

Video 27 of 62
2 min 53 sec
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How would you know that someone is maybe coping with an eating disorder?

Sometimes people try to hide this, but I think if you are aware that a family member or a friend or an employee is using food as not for eating and for pleasure, but for other purposes that are good... It's a good indication that they are coping with something. They might cut food up very small, tiny pieces of it, they might make excuses at meal times, "Oh, I've already eaten," that sort of thing, and they go to the ladies loo or gent's loo and induce vomiting. And of course, the big thing to note is they may well be losing weight. If the eating disorder is of a different type, where they are cramming food down themselves and then making themselves vomit, weight fluctuation, person might talk about it or not, some people like to, it's a sort of not drawing attention to, but I'm coping with this, which is a cry for help of course, but other people take great pains to hide it. And often family members have coped with this for quite a while before other people are aware of it.

Is there some sort of form of control involved with an eating disorder?

Yes, it can be. It can be a form of control. They feel the other areas of their life are out of control and this is one area where they really do have control over what they are putting in their bodies.

What would be the best thing to do for someone who... Could think certain employee or colleague at work is coping with some kind of eating disorder, what will be the first thing to do?

Well, the first thing is to make it okay for them to talk about it. To let them know that you are there to listen and help. It would depend on their position and your position of course, but you could offer signposting to a referral source, it might just be as easy as listening to them and seeing what help they feel they need. Often, they will feel that they don't need help. That this is something that's got to be in their life forever, and they have become quite accustomed to it, but they may also be ready to change that pattern. And if they are, then you need to have some resources at your fingertips to offer, but in the first case, what you need to do is listen confidentially to them and assure them that you are there to support and help, not in any way judgmental. And also get them to find areas of support for themselves, maybe a friend or someone they really trust, as well as you, so that the problem is opened up a little bit and it's not kept quite so secret.