This week, for Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, we’re looking at some of the most common mental health conditions and asking how we can help – heart, mind, soul and strength. 

Eating disorders are some of the deadliest mental illnesses, and some of the most difficult to get your head around, and yet it emerged from a new Mental Health Foundation report that a staggering one in five adults have felt shame about their bodies and so whilst eating disorders may be difficult to understand, many of us can understand feeling shame about our bodies. Eating disorders feed on that shame and writer Marya Hornbacher describes her experience like this:

“[A] paradox would begin to run my life: to know what you are doing is hurting you, maybe killing you, and to be afraid of that fact – but to cling to the idea that this will save you, it will, in the end, make things okay.”

Heart: Eating disorders are very lonely and isolating for both sufferers and their families. Offering mentoring to siblings, babysitting so parents can get out together or just going outside for a chat can be hugely beneficial.

Mind: The internal dialogue which exists in eating disorders can be scary and difficult to manage, consider putting together a playlist, or sending a link to fun podcasts. Behaviours around food are the symptom of mental anguish – eating disorders are psychological disorders.

Soul:  The christian gospel is one which is not just for our minds – but our souls and bodies – too. Consider preaching on food, God’s hope and plan for it, that it may nourish the body and build community, as well as serving a variety of food at church gatherings (not just pizza!)

Strength: It’s important to take advice from medical professionals in terms of eating plans and the amount of exercise taken, instead focus perhaps on getting outside and sitting in the sunshine.

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