On Feb. 4 an informative panel discussion on eating disorders will take place at Barnett House from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. The event is free and open to all members of the public. This is one of several events planned to mark Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which takes place from Feb. 2 to 8.
Hosted by the Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta, in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Alberta Teachers’ Association, the panel will include a medical professional who has extensive experience treating eating disorders.
It will also include a person who has recovered from an eating disorder, the spouse of someone with a long-term eating disorder, and a teacher whose child has an eating disorder and who has applied his personal experience to help his students with eating disorders.
Eating disorders are serious brain-based illnesses. Although they have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, they are poorly understood and often go undetected for months or even years. Teachers are often the first to see warning signs in their classrooms: students who struggle to concentrate, show high levels of anxiety and/or are engaged in self-harm may have an eating disorder. Teachers may also notice a student’s alarming weight loss, extreme social isolation, frequent trips to the bathroom or compulsive exercising and wonder where to turn for more information or how to broach the subject with parents.
This panel will help build awareness, compassion and understanding about these complex illnesses. Breaking through the secrecy, shame and stigma is the first step toward building a more supportive school community. Bring your questions and please feel free to share this event with the parents in your school via your newsletter, SchoolZone or other communication channels. ❚
To learn more about eating disorders, the support that is available for those affected and other events planned for Eating Disorder Awareness Week, please visit: www.eatingdisordersupportnetworkofalberta.com.
Sue Huff is vice-president of the Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta.