Help a Friend with Eating Disorder

For Concerned Others: Information & Resources

Talking with Someone

Talking to someone about a possible eating disorder is difficult to do, but is something that may be necessary in the interst of the person's health and well-being. Below are guidelines to assist friends in this process:

Before Approaching the Person

  • Decide upon one or two people who will approach the person. Close, trusted friends or family members are usually best.
  • Be prepared to:
  • •Express your care and specific concerns.
    •Demonstrate willingness to be supportive.
    •Provide information about available resources/professional assistance.


During Discussion

  • Find a private setting where all can feel comfortable.
  • Begin by letting the person know you are concerned and that you care.
  • Next, express your concerns in a straightforward and caring manner.
  • Share two or three specific situations when you felt afraid or uneasy. For example:
  • •"I noticed you've been avoiding meals with us lately. I wonder if we could talk about that?"
    •"I feel concerned about the weight you've lost this past semester. I was hoping we could talk about this."
    •"I feel concerned because it seems like you've been dieting for a long time now. Is it possible for us to discuss this?"
  • Allow the person the chance to respond. Accept the person's responses in a non-judgemental manner.
  • In order to keep the discussion as productive as possible, avoid:
    •Offering advice or personal options.
    •Lengthy discussions that end up in a power struggle.
    •Offering simplistic solutions (i.e., why don't you just eat?).
    •Prefacing your statements with "you" (i.e., you just don't get it).
    •Saying things like "you're getting too skinny." Instead, put your statement into health terms, i.e, "I'm worried about your health and well-being."
    •Debates or arguments concerning food eaten (or not eaten), calories consumed, or looking for reasons that contributed to the development of these eating problems.
  • Be prepared for strong feelings/reactions from the person (i.e., denial, anger).
  • In such cases, let the person know you are willing to talk again.
    •Example: "I know you believe things are okay, but that will not change my concerns. i will bring this up at another time in the near future. We can talk again then."
  • Eating disorders are typically not emergency situations. However, if the person appears to be in acute medical danger and/or at risk for suicide, call for help immediately: 911 or 232-2222: UW-Stout Campus Police.

Toward End of Discussion

  • Review the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, good health, and adequate self-care.
  • Be sure to provide information about resouces available for professional assistance (see Resources).
  • If the person declines further help, remind yourself you have done all it is reasonable for your to do at this time. Realize you will have made important progress by honestly sharing your concerns, providing support, and offering resources.

Resources for Campus & Community

  • For Crisis or Emergencies (24 Hours)
    •Call 911 or Campus Police: 232-2222

University Counseling Center

(715) 232-2468

  • Hours: Mon.-Fri., 8:00a.m.-4:30p.m.
  • Short-Term Counseling & Referral Services.
  • Services free to all UW-Stout students.

Student Health Services

(715) 232-1314, North Campus

  • Hours: Mon.-Fri., 8:00a.m.-4:30p.m.
  • Nutritional education, medical assessment.
  • Services free to all UW-Stout students.

Access Outpatient Mental Health Center

(715) 235-4696 or toll-free 1-888-261-5585

  • 406 Technology Dr., E., Suite B, Menomonie, WI
  • Outpatient Psychotherapy & Psychiatry services.
  • Health Insurance information needed.
  • Sliding fee scale available for those eligible

Red Cedar Clinic: Behavioral Health Services Menomonie,WI

(715) 233-7891

  • Outpatient Psychotherapy, Nutrition, Psychiatry, and medical services. 2211 Stout Road, Menomonie, WI
  • Health insurance information needed

Marshfield Clinic: Eau Claire, WI Center for Eating Disorders

(715)858-4850 or 1-800-924-3515

  • Outpatient Psychotherapy, Nutrition, Psychiatry, and medical services.
  • Health insurance information is needed.

Emily Program: St. Paul, MN


  • Variety of outpatient treatment services/programs for eating disorders.
  • Health insurance information is needed.

Methodist Hospital: St. Louis Park, MN Eating Disorders Institute


  • Variety of Outpatient & Inpatient treatment services for eating disorders.
  • Health insurance information needed.

More Information

NOTE: Many of these links are not maintained by the Counseling Center or UW-Stout. They may be helpful but are not meant to replace consultation with a professional counselor. UW-Stout students should contact the Counseling Center for information about local resource.