Education professionals have a vital role to play in raising concerns about eating disorders and anorexia, and other mental health issues, as well as providing support when such issues have been identified.
Schools should consider how to provide appropriate support to their pupils and they are able to decide on the most appropriate way to do this, based on their individual circumstances. One of the best ways is as part of a ‘whole-school’ approach and we have taken a range of actions to support them to do this, including being informed about eating disorders and anorexia.
We have funded guidance and age-appropriate lesson plans on teaching mental health in PSHE – which covers teaching about eating disorders and anorexia. Training for teachers on eating disorders and anorexia is available through MindEd, a free online portal which has been developed to enable all adults working with children and young people learn more about specific mental health problems and how to support them. We have also revised and updated our blueprint for effective school-based counselling.
However teachers are not mental health specialists, and can need specialist help to support pupils with eating disorders and anorexia. We have contributed to a £3m joint pilot between schools and specialist mental health services, to help schools draw on specialist support for their pupils, where needed.
To improve the specialist support available, the Government made available £150m in April 2015 for 5 years to enable specific improvements in the support available to young people with eating disorders. In 2016 -17, £30m of this funding has been allocated by NHS England to Clinical Commissioning Groups to improve community based eating disorder services.