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How to support a friend you think might have an eating disorder

Knowing how to support a friend or family member who has an eating disorder can be difficult, but you don't have to face it alone.

Shout Clinician Christine shares her top tips on how to support someone who has an eating disorder, highlighting the ways you can be supportive and there for someone who is struggling.

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  1. Check in with yourself and your own wellbeing. Make sure you are feeling supported, recharged and in an okay space to support someone else. Remember it is not your responsibility to fix the situation for your friend but that you can be a valuable support for them.
  2. Consider tone, turf and timing. You want your tone to be supportive and kind, the turf to be neutral where you both feel comfortable, and the timing to be when you're clear minded.
  3. Be careful not to criticise and instead focus on listening. It can be helpful not to start off talking about weight or eating but do mention your concern. You can let your friend know you are worried about them and encourage them to speak to someone for further support.
  4. Seeking further support. This could be reaching out to a GP, wellbeing service or texting Shout. After you've listened and let them lead consider letting them know if you'd be willing to help them navigate support such as accompanying them or helping them talk to their parents or a GP.
  5. Remember it is not your responsibility to treat your friend. They may not be receptive but listening compassionately and letting them know you're there for them is impactful. Be sure to look after yourself before and after the conversation.