Helping a Friend

Flower

Helping a Friend

Assistance Available at UNH 

If you are concerned about a friend, roommate, or family member who is struggling with an eating concern, you can speak to a professional a Health Services about how to approach the situation by calling (603) 862-3823 or by requesting an Eating Concerns Mentor.

Are you concerned about someone?

Here are some helpful tips to assist you if you are planning on talking with your friend (or anyone you care about) about their strugles with body image and eating concerns:

Do...

  • Speak to the person privately and allow time to talk. 
  • Tell the person you are very concerned about her/him. 
  • Calmly tell the person some specific observations that have aroused your concerns. 
  • Allow the person time to respond: listen carefully and non-judgmentally. 
  • Keep the focus on symptoms/behaviors (eg. withdrawing from others). 
  • If the information you receive suggests an eating concern, share with the person that you think he/she might be struggling with eating (or body image or weight management…)
  • If you are concerned that their behavior may need to be evaluated by someone who understands eating concerns. 
  • Be familiar with some of the resources available at UNH or in your community to which the person can be referred. 
  • Seek information and support for yourself  and advice for yourself.
  • Focus positive and encouraging comments towards who they are as a person not towards their appearance. 
  • Emphasize positive personality traits and let them know what their strengths are. 
  • Let them know you care about them no matter what.
DO… 
• speak to the person privately and allow time to talk. 
• tell the person you are very concerned about 
her/him. 
• calmly tell the person some specific observations 
that have aroused your concerns. 
• allow the person time to respond: listen carefully 
and non-judgmentally. 
• keep the focus on symptoms/behaviors (eg. 
withdrawing from others). 
• If the information you receive suggests an eating 
concern, share with the person that: 
Î you think he/she might be struggling with eating 
(or body image or weight management…); 
Î you are concerned that their behavior may need 
to be evaluated by someone who understands 
eating concerns. 
• be familiar with some of the resources in your 
community to which the person can be referred. 
• seek information and advice for yourself. 
• focus positive/encouraging comments towards who 
they are as a person not towards their appearance. 
• emphasize positive personality traits and let them 
know what their strengths are. 

• let them know you care about them no matter what.

 

Don't 

  • Confront the person with a group of people, all of whom are firing concerns and accusations at the person
  • Threaten or challenge the person
  • Be judgmental, for example, don’t tell the person what they’re doing is “sick,” “crazy,” or “stupid.”
  • Reinforce or focus on your friend’s appearance
  • Diagnose
  • Get into an argument or a battle of wills. Instead, calmly repeat your specific observations, your concern, and your strong belief that they need to have the situation evaluated
  • End the conversation if it is going nowhere or if either of you becomes too upset
  • Try to keep track of what the person is eating or force the person to eat/not eat
  • Let the person monopolize your time or energy
  • Alienate the person by ending the conversation on a negative note 

Remember

  • Educate yourself about eating concerns 
  • Know about the resources available at UNH that can help you and your friend
  • When talking with your friend, be positive and encouraging 
  • Take care of yourself

Additional Information