It's difficult to prevent someone from suffering from an eating disorder. However, it's important and easy to bring awareness to eating disorders, the motivations behind them, and how to help. The activities in this lesson plan are designed to help students recognize media’s influence on our body image and expectations, as well as critical warning signs and red flags of an eating disorder. The habits and destructive behaviors of someone suffering from an eating disorder are usually kept hidden in plain sight from the people around them. By bringing awareness to this dangerous mental health issue, students will develop the vocabulary to discuss eating disorders and be able to take the necessary steps to get help or to help others.
Suffering from an eating disorder like bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating, can be a life or death situation. Emotional lows, struggles, and dangerous behaviors are often hidden from the people closest to those around those who are struggling. Being able to point out small cries for help can make an immeasurable difference to the individual in need. One of the ways to help students recognize red flags is to create visual scenarios with Storyboard That. The images bring a bit of lightness to a very heavy discussion. This will allow the students to be more comfortable tackling sensitive content and gives them a place to explore different coping mechanisms before putting them into practice.
It’s important to understand that disordered eating is not a choice people make. It is a safety blanket or coping mechanism for individuals who are viewing themselves in a disordered way or experiencing anxiety and need something to control. Anyone being affected by disordered eating is not alone. There are resources for students, staff, and parents. NEDA, National Eating Disorder Association, provides contact people, information, and resources. Calling a hotline (800-931-2237), texting (NEDA to 741741), or going on a chat on their website are just some ways to get help from NEDA.