Educate Your School About the Tragedy of Eating Disorders: Eating Disorders Awareness Week

As I am sitting on couch, I notice a commercial about the importance of identifying the symptoms of autism early in children. Autism is a very serious disorder and it is important to identify the illness early. However, there is one mental illness with the highest mortality rate and many adults are unaware of the seriousness of this disorders in teens. Even in the medical community, this disorder  fails to receive the funding that other mental health disorders garner.  This mental health disorder is known as eating disorders.

Funding for Mental Health Illnesses:

 llness                                            Prevalence                    NIH Research Funds (2011)
Alzheimer’s Disease                      5.1 million                     $450,000,000
Autism                                            3.6 million                     $160,000,000
Schizophrenia                                 3.4 million                     $276,000,000
Eating disorders                             30 million                      $28,000,000

Resource: NEDA

Types of Eating Disorders

The public is unaware of the different types of eating disorders that have been identified by the medical community. The most common types of eating disorders include:

Anorexia Nervosa
  • inability to maintain minimal normal body weight;
  • feelings of fear that one will gain weight;
  • distortion of body image;
  • amennorrhea or absence of three consecutive menstrual periods.
Bulimia Nervosa
  • binging and purging behaviors occur twice a week for more than three months;
  • intense fear of gaining weight;
  • engage in a variety of purging behaviors including the use of laxatives, diuretics, enemas, fasting, and excessive exercising.

Some newly identified disorders by the DSM include:

Binge Eating Disorder
  • recurrent binge eating that occur twice weekly for a period of at least a period of six months;
  • a large amount of food is consumed in a short amount of time;
  • episodes include consumption until physically uncomfortable, eating when not hungry, often eating alone, and feeling disgusted with the behavior.
  • physical characteristics include obesity or being overweight.
 Anorexia Athletica
  • engage in excessive exercise;
  • obsession with caloric intake;
  • self worth determined by athletic performance.
Over Exercise
  • a form of anorexia athletica;
  • exhaustion from one single workout or a consistent pattern of behavior;
  • experiencing physical, psychological, or social consequences. 
 What is Overexercise?

In addition to the identified disorders, the medical community has identified some non specified disorders.

  • tend to eat when not hungry;
  • spend a lot of time thinking about eating;
  • excessive amounts of money are spent on food.
Night Eating
  • tend not to eat in the morning or first half of the day;
  • majortiy of calories consumed in the evening;
  • sleep disrupted so person can eat;
  • person eats snacks rather than huge meals.
  • fixation of eating pure, right, or proper foods;
  • experience cyclical extremes, changes in moods, or isolation;
  • majority of time spent on spent preparing meals and resisting temptation;
  • failure to enjoy life.
10 Ways to Spot an Orthorexic
 Resource: Eating Disorders Online

Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Next week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week and the focus is on early intervention and recognizing the diverse experiences of all people who encounter an eating disorder. As school counselors, it is important that we give resources to students and parents, aid in prevention, provide support, and provide referrals for treatment.  The theme of Eating Disorders Awareness Week is "I Had No Idea" and the National Association for Eating Disorders Awareness  has a kit that can be downloaded to educate your school about eating disorders.

"I Had No Idea" - Kit for organizations.

Activities for Schools

How to Build a Life Size Barbie

Host a Scale Smashing
Sock It to Eating Disorders
Eating Disorder Screening

Share messages for social media

Face Book Banners
Twitter Banners
Shareable Social Images

Also, check out the educator toolkit on eating disorders. 

The tool kit includes:
  • Teacher referral to school counselor
  • Tips for communicating with parents
  • Confidentiality
  • Treatment resources
  • Education treatment plan for staff
  • Tips for psychologists, school nurses, and coaches
  • Set of curriculum
  • Additional organizations and resources
Educator Toolkit

Here are additional resources for schools:

Tips and Information for Coaches - great resource to give your coaches to identify ED early in students.

DE Fact Sheet

Early Intervention Resource for Schools

School Guide for ED

Signs and Symptoms Specific to the School Setting

Eating Disorders Impact on Learning

Recommended Dos for Being Supportive

Recommended Don'ts for Being Supportive

Confronting Someone with an ED

Twelve Ideas Help People Eating Disorders Negotiate Holidays

Pro Eating Disorders Websites

Want more information on eating disorders?  Check out the following information!

Eating Disorder Conference



Certification for Counselors

Do you have parents that need help?  Check out the list of treatment centers and the parent toolkit.

Treatment Centers in the US

Toolkit for Parents

Posters for you school:

Poster for Bulimia Nervosa

Other posters from ANAD: