Screening for Mental Health: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week Q&A

By To Write Love on Her Arms

Screening for Mental Health provides innovative mental health and substance use resources, linking those in need with quality treatment options. Screening for Mental Health’s programs, offered online and in-person, educate, raise awareness, and screen individuals for common mental health disorders and suicide.

Below is a Q&A with Screening for Mental Health, Inc.’s Joanna Karbel, Program Manager, CollegeResponse.

What is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week? 

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February 21-27) is an annual campaign that brings awareness to the critical needs of people with eating disorders and their families. This year’s campaign focuses on the need for early detection and intervention, such as brief mental health screenings.

Are eating disorders a form of mental illness? 

Eating disorders are complex medical conditions that cause serious physical and emotional problems. They stem from a combination of mental and behavioral health disorders, as well as biological and social factors.

Are eating disorders ever linked to other mental illnesses? 

Yes, eating disorders frequently coexist with mental illnesses such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders.

How do you talk to someone if you think they may have an eating disorder?

It can be difficult to talk to someone if you think they may have an eating disorder. They may not want to hear what you have to say, but it’s important to speak up and to let them know that you care about them and you are concerned for them.

Who should I talk to if I’m dealing with an eating disorder?

If you think you have an eating disorder, you should talk to a professional, either a mental health professional or your primary care doctor. The earlier you acknowledge your eating disorder and start treatment, the better the success rate of recovery.

How do you screen for eating disorders? 

In partnership with the National Eating Disorders Association, Screening for Mental Health provides free, anonymous eating disorder screenings here. The screening is informational in nature, takes just a few minutes, and lets you know if you have symptoms consistent with an eating disorder. It also lets you know where to seek help in your area.

Is screening free? 

Yes, the screening is free to the public here.

What can I do with the results of a screening? 

At the end of the screening, you are provided with information as to whether your symptoms are consistent with an eating disorder. You can print this information and bring it your doctor’s office. Often it can be difficult to start a conversation about concern over your eating and having a printout with your results may help start the conversation.

The results also provide you with a listing of local resources that you can contact to find more information or get help.

What are some of the most common signs that a friend or family member may have an eating disorder?

There are multiple types of eating disorders, and they have different signs and symptoms. Below are a few of the disorders and some of the signs to look for. If you don’t see these signs or symptoms but have concerns about a friend or loved one, you should talk to them and encourage them to seek help.

Anorexia Nervosa

  • Inadequate food intake leading to weight that is clearly too low
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Obsession with weight and persistent behavior to prevent weight gain

Binge Eating Disorder

  • Frequent episodes of consuming large amounts of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting
  • Feelings of shame or guilt regarding binge eating

Bulimia Nervosa

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image

For a complete listing of the disorders and signs and symptoms, go to the National Eating Disorders Association.

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