One out of 8 people in the world suffers eating disorders and about the same number harm themselves physically, according to recent studies. ‘This alarming trend has grown in the last decade, and there has been an increase in the number of adolescents and young adults experiencing emotional distress resulting in eating disorders and self-injury,’ says Dr Onita Nakra, educational psychologist and counsellor at the American School of Dubai.
Self-injury is the intentional harming of the body, mainly through cutting and burning. Eating disorders can take the form of starving oneself, to purging and binging. They all are self-destructive behaviours that are commonly used as coping strategies to overcome emotional distress, says Dr Nakra. ‘The sad fact is that many young people are using self-injury and their relationship with food to cope with difficult feelings.’
Many people develop eating disorders in the process. ‘This is quite prevalent among young persons,’ she says. ‘But thanks to research and many best practices in place, we are now in a position to make life-changing, positive differences to young people’s lives in a world that is so often suspicious and judgmental.’
As part of helping people cope with such issues, Ishara Consultants are organizing a one-day workshop on self-harm and eating disorders in Dubai on February 18. UK-based psychotherapist Jo Watson will conduct the workshop.
The workshop is intended to teach participants why people turn to unhealthy coping strategies; how to identify and recognize self-injury and eating disorders; appropriate responses and interventions; and how young people experience the struggle with self-injury and eating disorders.