headspace has issued a warning for parents, teachers and young people ahead of the Australian release of the new Netflix movie To The Bone.

The National Youth Mental Health Foundation has joined other Australian mental health organisations in voicing its concerns around the films portrayal of anorexia nervosa.

The film focuses on the story of a young woman’s experience with the eating disorder. While the complete film is yet to be shown in Australia, the trailer depicts some confronting images of her experience with the illness.

Some of the images have appeared on so called “thinspiration” websites, which glamorise eating disorders.

headspace CEO Jason Trethowan said research showed that graphic imagery of people with eating disorders can be a potential trigger for at-risk, young people.

“The concern is about portrayal of behaviours associated with an eating disorder – and whether this may be providing a ‘how to’ guide for adolescents who may be at risk,” he said.

Mr Trethowan said the creators of the movie – and those prompted by the film to discuss the issues – must be careful about that they framing the conversation in a way that is safe for young people.

“We don’t want any representation or discussion in the media, on TV, or anywhere else, that has the potential to place young people at risk,” he said.

According to headspace clinicians adolescence is a time of increased risk for the development of an eating disorder.

headspace Head of Clinical Practice, Vikki Ryall said eating disorders are a serious mental illness with long-term physical and psychological impacts.

“They can have a significant impact on the family and friends of a person experiencing an eating disorder, as well as on the person themselves,” she said.

Ms Ryall said any broadcast or written material dealing with eating disorders should refrain from showing strategies or tactics around living with an eating disorder.

“We need to be having the right conversation about the problem, and we need to be able to show parents, schools and young people where they can look to make this happen.”

headspace recommends the following websites for information about eating disorders:

If you or someone you know is having a tough time, visit headspace.org.au

NOTE: Mindframe (the Federal Government’s national media initiative) and the Butterfly Foundation last week met with Netflix Australia. The three organisations are working together to ensure that parents, teachers and young people are supported throughout the release of this feature film. We encourage any media outlets to refer to the Mindframe Media Guidelines and the specific recommendations for discussing eating disorders at http://www.mindframe-media.info/for-media/reporting-suicide/Downloads/?a=5140

 

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