Congratulations! You’ve worked hard, secured your spot, and you’re off to university in the next few weeks. You’re probably busy packing your bedding, planning how to decorate your uni halls, and picking up all those books on your reading list. There’s a lot to think about – and an eating disorder means extra things to consider.
But with planning and support, you can make your move to university a smooth one. Here’s what you might need to check through as you get ready for this next step.
Questions? Concerns? Write them down!
University’s a huge change, especially if you’re doing it while managing an eating disorder. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed! Start by jotting down any questions or worries you have so you don’t forget them. You can chat with someone you trust – your GP, your treatment team, a family member – to figure out who to go to for answers.
Register with your new GP
Your university might ask you to register with a local GP before you can study there, so find out what the rules are. The university will probably have its own GP service, though you may not have to use it – you might be able to choose another GP in the area instead.
Use the links to find a GP in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. Remember you can get in touch or look at online reviews to get a feel for whether a GP surgery is a good fit for you.
Want to stay with your current GP? Sometimes GPs will agree to treat out-of-area patients. So if you have a good relationship with your GP, talk to them about whether this might be an option for you. If your university asks you to register with a local practice, see if they can make an exception.
Talk about the move with your treatment team
If you’re going through eating disorder treatment, you’ll probably have a lot of questions about how the move from one service to another will work. And there’s no one set of answers – the transition will probably look different depending on where you’re coming from and where you’re going.
But the two services should work with each other to manage the move so there’s no break in your treatment. And you should know what decisions are being made about your health and why. There’s no such thing as a silly or annoying question, so speak with the people treating you so you understand what to expect.
Get a copy of your medical records
Your new treatment service and GP should be sent your medical records. But before you go, you may want to think about getting a full copy of them so you can share them if you need to.
Find out how to access your health records in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Update your emergency contacts
You’ll probably want to keep your existing important contacts. But depending on how far you’re moving, think about whether there’s anyone who’ll be closer by who could also help if there’s an emergency. Make sure this is updated on your phone if there’s an option to store emergency contacts, and on your student records.
See what support your uni offers
Student support services can be really varied between universities. But sometimes they can be a real lifeline for students with eating disorders. See what you might have access to – many universities offer one-to-one counselling or therapy, group sessions and workshops, banks of useful information and resources, and much more.
Some universities specifically lay out what they’ll do to support students with eating disorders. As an eating disorder may be considered a disability, you might also be eligible for support with studying, exams, and day-to-day life.
Your university’s website will probably have dedicated sections for wellbeing and disability support. And if you’re not sure where to start, see if there’s a main point of contact who can help you find what you need.
Find your people
It can feel scary going off to university – but it’s exciting, too! It’s brand new for everyone, and you’ll meet people who get it and who want to support you.
So think about what you might find helpful from them. You don’t have to share loads about the eating disorder right away – it could be as simple as studying together if you’re feeling anxious about workload. But in time, having friends around you who know what you’re going through will really help.
Depending on where you are with your recovery and whether it will benefit you, you could see if you can directly connect with other people who have similar experiences. Lots of universities have student societies dedicated to supporting and connecting people who’ve experienced mental health issues, and raising awareness at university and beyond. Some universities even have their own Beat society!
No matter where or what you’re studying, you’ll have lots of chances to try out new things, make new friends and learn more about yourself. Grab every opportunity or take it slow and steady – your university experience is all yours.
Sally, our resident Social Media Assistant, talks about starting university with an eating disorder and transitional periods.
A mother shares her family's experience of her daughter's transition from school to university with an eating disorder.