For years there has been a stigma surrounding mental illnesses in the workplace. However, an illness that is often overlooked are eating disorders. It’s not always the teenage girl that suffers from this mental illness. In fact, 9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. (NDAD). Eating disorders are also the deadliest mental illness, just second to opioid overdose. It is likely that someone in your family, a friend, or a colleague at work could be suffering in silence. February 27th through March 5th is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Continue to read about risk factors, warning signs, and how to get involved with eating disorder awareness.
Like any illness, eating disorders can negatively affect people in the workplace. It is not always easy to identify whether someone could be suffering, people with eating disorders vary and one box does not fit all. To protect yourself and those around you, become familiar with the warning signs.
Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder in the Workplace
- Preoccupation with weight, dieting, food, etc.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Avoiding workplace events where food might be present.
- Excessive caffeine consumption.
- Withdrawal from co-workers and daily activities.
- Unusual increase or decrease in productivity levels.
Maintaining workplace wellness is vital to the happiness and success of your organization. If an employee or coworker is struggling with an undetected eating disorder or disordered eating, it can take a major toll. Encourage eating disorders screenings or professional help to those who need it. NEDA has provided a toolkit on how to handle disordered eating in the workplace. It can be downloaded here.
How to Help
- Educate yourself with plenty of resources, such as NEDA.
- Be honest and use “I” statements.
- Be prepared for defensiveness.
- Stay kind, caring, and understanding.
- Remove your own potential stigmas.
- Encourage struggling employees to seek professional help.
“Eating Disorders Awareness Week is a collective effort of individuals from every walk of life: folks with lived experience, family members, and friends; students, educators, and coaches; professionals, health care providers, and organizations committed to raising awareness of eating disorders.” NEDA has the opportunity for you to sign up to be a NEDA Week 2023 Collaborator. Sign up here.