Many people who experience eating disorders develop them during adolescence or even earlier. This means you may have a pupil in your class who currently has an eating disorder, or who may develop one in future. By talking about eating disorders in a PSHE lesson, you can both help pupils to recognise the signs of disordered eating, and encourage them to seek help.
For Eating Disorders Awareness Week, we’ve brought together a range of teacher resources, to support you to teach about eating disorders confidently and safely. As set out below, these focus on
- Creating a safe teaching and learning environment
- Challenging misconceptions
- Supporting pupils to seek help
Creating a safe teaching and learning environment
There are a number of steps you can take to make sure that you teach about eating disorders in a way which is safe for pupils who may be at risk of developing an eating disorder or already suffer from one. There are a few things that you need to be aware of to ensure your pupils’ wellbeing. These resources should help you do so:
In the lesson, it’s a good idea to challenge common misconceptions that pupils might have. This can be a good way of dispelling stigma around eating disorders, helping pupils to recognise the signs, and supporting pupils to seek help. These resources should help you to do so:
Supporting pupils with an eating disorder to seek help
Lessons on eating disorders should aim to encourage pupils to seek help and signpost them to ways of doing so. This means that after the lesson, there’s a chance that a pupil will make a disclosure to a member of staff, and you’ll need to be ready to manage the situation. These resources should help you to do so:
- Our resource on handling mental health disclosures
- Our information sheet for pupils on disclosing an eating disorder. This was written by our Emotional Wellbeing lead, Dr Pooky Knightsmith, who herself recovered from an eating disorder. It can be given to pupils in the hope that it will be directly useful to some and indirectly to others (for example, pupils who may be worried about their friends)
Above all else, we hope you remember that teachers can make a real difference to the lives of pupils who are suffering from an eating disorder, helping them on the road to recovery, or in supporting friends or those who are at risk. We hope our resources will help you to negotiate this important but complex area.