Schools: how to deal with anorexia

16th April 1999 at 01:00
If you suspect a pupil is becoming anorexic, contact parents as soon as possible so collective action can be taken.

Set up a clear network of care, so pupils and staff know who to approach. One staff member should liaise with agencies and parents, but let the pupil confide in an adult he or she feels comfortable with.

Lunch breaks should be moni-tored and staff made aware of strat-egies anorexics use to avoid food.

The Eating Disorders Association - and Drs Pieri and Crisp - advise against regular weighing sessions. This happens in some boarding schools, but weighing strikes terror in the hearts of anorexics, leading to vomiting and laxative abuse.

Teachers should be wary of 'glamorising' the condition by talking about it.

Professor Arthur Crisp's books on anorexia, particularly 'Anorexia Nervosa: the wish to change', are available from The Psychology Press, tel: 01603 624310. They are recommended by anorexics and are helpful for sufferers and parents wanting to learn more about the condition.

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