Go to your GP
GP’s are not expert in eating disorders and will not have a lot of experience in seeing children and young people with eating disorders as they are rare conditions. You know your child best and that there is a problem. In some cases parents have to insist with GP’s that their child needs help. The following information is important to inform the GP of: Behaviours- what you child is doing around food and drink /exercise/vomiting – tell them what you have been observing over the last weeks take any notes you have made with you. Thinking and Emotions- describe the changes, how your child was before and is now. Your child might be able to describe a fear of being fat, so explain how scared they are to go on the scales or that they weigh themselves many times etc. These behaviours tell us more than what the young person in able to actually talk about. Physical changes- point out the changes in weight/clothes fitting, hair loss, skin changes, coldness, changes in menstrual cycle etc.
Referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for treatment.
Request a referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS)- (link to CAMHS pages) Full assessment and treatment is carried out in your local child and adolescent mental health team. You can request that this is done as soon as possible. Early intervention is so important. If the GP is not convinced your child has an eating disorder you can still request a full eating disorders assessment is carried in child and adolescent mental health. If you still feel you are not being heard, speak with your Childs school nurse they can also make a referral to child and adolescent mental health services. If you require any more support contact Connect-Eating Disorders on 0141 2777504.
Support and help while you wait for treatment
A lot of work has gone into CAMHS services recently to reduce waiting times and eating disorder patients are considered as priority patients by teams. However any wait for a first appointment is stressful and feels too long. It is important that you child continues to attend the GP surgery for physical health checks, these should include monitoring of weight, height, pulse and blood pressure and blood testing. Support is available and the eating disorders association website www.b-eat.co.uk is a good starting point for information and support forums. The better informed you are as a parent, the better. There is also a locally run Beat support group for parents/carer of children and adolescents with eating disorders, information on the group can be found here www. Parents in Glasgow and Clyde have said that they have found having links with other parents at an early stage to be very important. Coming to terms with the idea that you child may have an eating disorder is important at this time. Like any other serious illness that our children have it takes some time to really come to terms with this and accept it and what it means for them and the whole family. Some parents have found using mindfulness techniques helpful more information is available on this website. Also see additional eating disorders information page If you require any more support please phone the Connect-eating disorders team for phone support on 0141 277 7504 or for email support [email protected]
Getting Help – Getting help early is important There is considerable evidence to show that the earlier treatment begins, the more successful it will be, but the first signs of an eating disorder are subtle and are often meticulously concealed by the sufferer. Parents, carers and friends may notice changes in behaviour and these should not be ignored. Some reasons for getting help early: o Improve the chances of recovery. The sooner you seek help at the first signs, the sooner a young person can recover o Can help you feel less isolated by talking to those who can help and empower you all as a family to tackle recovery head on. o Reduce the risks of developing life long problems that are associated with eating disorders. o Reduce the practical, and emotional difficulties in relation to parenting a young family member with an eating disorder
What should “I” do?
What should I do if I think I have an eating disorder?
If you are a young person who is worried they may have an eating disorder, it is important to talk to someone about your worries, this may be your parent or carers, your guidance teacher, a relative or family friend, someone you trust and who will listen to you. The eating disorders association has good information to help you recognised signs and symptoms and a help line and web forum for young people that you may find helpful. www.b-eat.co.uk If you remain concerned that you have some signs of an eating disorder you must go and see your G.P. It would probably be helpful to take a parent/carer to the appointment with you. See sections below on information to take to your GP
What should you do if you are worried that a friend has an eating disorder?
It is friends who often realise there is a problem before the actual sufferer does. Part of having an eating disorder is not being able to see the eating disordered behaviours as a problem, which can make helping friends difficult. You can try to tell your friend about your concerns and in particular the differences you see in them, give examples of the “old them” and the “new them”, to illustrate how much they have changed. Help them to go to a parent or guidance teacher to ask for help. If your friend will not speak to someone, it is ok for you to do this for them, even if they don’t want you to. This does often happen and your friendship will survive as you are doing the right thing for your friend, getting support and treatment will be vital for them to get better.
What should you do if you are worried that your child has an eating disorder?
Steps to get them to the GP and into treatment. Eating disordered thinking and behaviour is often hidden and not seen as a problem by the sufferer. This makes it different from other illnesses, and makes getting young people the help they need more difficult. Parents play a big part in helping their child get the help they need. Firstly they need an assessment by the GP, including a through physical examination. The GP can then refer them onto get treatment in child and adolescent mental health services. Following these steps will help:
Over a period of a week, watch out for your Childs behaviours especially around food and drinks; meal/snack times/secret eating/food disappearing etc, exercise or activity, visits to the toilet. Think about their emotions; are they more with drawn, quick to be annoyed, more secretive, lower in mood, preoccupied? Physically are there signs of weight loss, are they feeling the cold, are their hands cold and or red? Do the things that you have observed fit with the signs of an eating disorder? If they do or you think that they might see the next step below.
If you are clear in your own mind that your child has a problem your aim here is to ensure that your child attends an appointment with their GP, preferably with you in attendance. In a warm and non blaming way talk openly and honestly with you child about your concerns. Your child may not see a problem and may also see the eating disorder as a “friend” so this approach will help to engage them in talking rather than push them away. Your child on the other hand might be relieved to be able to talk to you about it. Your aim is to go together to see your GP, to be further assessed. If you remain worried but still not sure if there is a problem, your aim when talking to your child is to find out more from their perspective. Again be warm and non judgemental when you ask them about the changes in their behaviour, tell them how they have changed, what you have noticed in their recent behaviour. Their response will help you to know more about the level of the problem. If you face anger or immediate strong denial remain concerned. One way to learn more and engaging your child is to say that you want to be with them for all meals and 2-3 snacks every day for the next week. If there are eating problems they are likely to surface during this time. Use a united front with your child when insisting on a GP appointment. If there are 2 parents come together and insist together, even if you are not living together or for single parents use a grandparent or family friend. If you are unable to get your child to go to the GP you can go on your own to tell the GP of your concerns. Also school nurses can be helpful in assessing children and are able to refer to child and adolescent mental health services, thus bypassing the need for a GP referral. .