Advice for parents and carers.
We’re here for you
We can assume that if you are reading this, you have concerns about a family member or loved one and are considering reaching out for support. If that is the case – it’s really positive you’re looking into options for treatment.
Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses that impact the mind and body of the sufferer, as well as the wider family. They manifest in different ways, meaning that they are unique to the individual and anyone can develop one.
Despite how they may present, eating disorders are not all about food. Rather, food is a symptom of other often deep-rooted issues. You can think about an eating disorder as a negative (or “maladaptive”) coping mechanism, used by the sufferer to block out or control overwhelming emotions.
As a family member or carer, it’s important to remember that there’s no one single cause. Rather, a combination of social, psychological and genetic factors that can contribute. Eating disorders can cause significant harm, but they are treatable and recovery is possible.
Research has shown that the earlier someone accesses specialist support, the faster and more sustained their recovery will be. Our treatment is all about ensuring people can progress in recovery whilst maintaining a connection to their lives outside treatment – be it work, university or school. By intervening early, their lives are less likely to be disrupted.
How we will support you
At Orri, we understand the importance of the role of the caregiver and are aware of the demands this role may have on the carers’ lifestyle.
We believe that family members are crucial to someone’s recovery from their eating disorder, yet are all too often are kept on the sidelines whilst their loved one undergoes treatment. This is far from our intention at Orri.
Treatment at Orri involves the family from day 1. Starting with the assessment to frequent sessions of Family Therapy, as well as regular check-ins with our clinicians. No two families are on the same path nor have the same history. We will help you to understand your loved one’s eating disorder, to identify the changes that need to be made, and develop the tools you need to support their recovery. We want to support you through this “illness of the family”.
There are many ways you can support your loved ones who are struggling with an eating disorder – no matter what stage that are at in their recovery – and we’re here to guide you through that process.
What you can do
- Look for advice from a specialist eating disorder professional
- Educate yourself and the rest of the family on eating disorders and the fact that they are not just about food
- Make personal changes based upon what you learn
- If you have a history of an eating disorder or disordered eating patterns, or are struggling to support your loved one find some support or treatment for yourself.
- Talk together with others involved in supporting your loved one so together you can speak in a unified voice
- Pick a time to talk when emotions aren’t running high, and where possible try and avoid talking about food or the more symptomatic aspects of the eating disorder
- Research and evaluate treatment options – ask yourself what feels comfortable and look for eating disorder specialists
- Eating disorders are difficult for siblings and other family members, if you think they might be affected, consider getting support for them
- Communicate with your loved one’s treatment team and share your concerns or observations from home
- Find a community of people in a similar situation to you and seek their support (we would recommend organisations like F.E.A.S.T.)
- Last but not least – do not neglect your own self-care. Whilst it is more easily said than done when you are concerned for someone you love who is battling an eating disorder, making time for yourself and getting support for you is vitally important