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Information and guidance for public, NHSGGC staff, and community-based services.  Hospital visiting restrictions now in place.

Getting Help

Go to your GP

Early assessment and treatment for an eating disorder is important, your GP can refer your child to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team (CAMHS) where all children and young people with eating disorders are given an urgent first appointment. 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 not be able to describe a fear of being fat, so explain how scared they are to go on the scales or can be seen checking or pinching their body. 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. The GP will take your childs weight and height and also complete other physical checks such as bloods tests and blood pressure and pulse.


Referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for treatment.

Request a referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS)- Full assessment and treatment is carried out in your local child and adolescent mental health team.

In addition to your GP referring to Child and Adolescent Mental health (CAMHS) other doctors can refer and so can school nursing and guidance staff.

If you require any more support contact Connect-Eating Disorders on 0141 2777407

Support and help while you wait for treatment

Any young person  referred with a potential Eating disorder is considered as priority by all CAMHS teams in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. However any wait for a first appointment is stressful and feels too long. It is important that your child continues to attend the GP surgery for physical health checks, these may include monitoring of weight, height, pulse and blood pressure and blood testing.

There is excellent information, advice, resources and links to support net works on this Scottish websiteThe better informed you are as a parent about eating disorders the better. The skills part of the site is particularly helpful to familiarise yourself with.

In addition the UK eating disorders charity has helplines and support see this poster

For any addition support or advise at this time phone the Connect-eating disorder team on 0141 277 7407 or email [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:

  • Improve the chances of recovery. The sooner you seek help at the first signs, the sooner a young person can recover
  • 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.
  • Reduce the risks of developing life long problems that are associated with eating disorders.
  • 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. 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 support your child 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:

  1. Be clear of signs and symptoms
  2. Watch and take note of changed behaviour/physical signs

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 is to talk to your child openly about  your concerns.

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, non blaming way, talk openly and honestly with your child about your concerns. Your child may not see a problem and may also see the eating disorder as a positive in their life, 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 and that you are worried about them. 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

Last Updated: 30 September 2020