Anorexia, Bulimia, binge-eating, purging, and night eating syndrome are all very real eating disorders that some people face every day.
While this topic may get brushed under the rug of socially unacceptable conversations, these extremely dangerous conditions can result in tragic consequences if gone unaddressed. This is exactly why Olivet’s Counseling and Health Services are addressing these problems by screening, informing, and enabling students at Olivet to address the reality of eating disorders.
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week this week, and Olivet’s Counseling and Health Services will be hosting a student outreach in the main hallway of Ludwig from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 23. At this outreach, therapists will be on hand to screen students not only to help those with diagnosable eating disorders, but to differentiate between rumors and reality surrounding these disorders.
“By participating in this event, students have a chance to learn something new, show their support, and participate in an event that truly can make a difference in the lives of many,” Brianna Koch, a staff therapist with the Counseling and Health Services, said.
These screenings are not intended to just identify those with diagnosable eating disorders, but to help students become aware of the problems that so many other people go through. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, this year’s theme is “It’s Time to Talk About It”–intended to help raise public awareness and erase the stigma surrounding eating disorders.
By providing the outreach and screening, Counseling and Health Services is attempting to creating an environment for students to feel safe and comfortable talking about these matters.
While a majority of students may not be directly affected by an eating disorder, most of the population will unknowingly or knowingly interact with somebody with one at some point in their life. About 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from a clinically defined eating disorder within their lifetime, according to the National Eating Disorder Association. This national problem does not just affect one group of people, it can ruin the lives of individuals of every age, gender, and race, contrary to popular belief.
“Too often we think that eating disorders are simply about food and appearance, but this is not the case. Eating disorders are serious medical conditions that can cause extreme symptoms,” Koch said.
Being able to recognize these symptoms and get those living with an eating disorder help in a timely manner may be some peoples’ only shot at survival. By providing screenings and information, Counseling and Health Services is hoping to be the initial spark that ignites others to spread awareness.
One issue Counseling and Health Services is planning addressing is facts versus myths. Koch explained that one commonly held myth is that individuals who have an eating disorder are thought to be seeking attention or “going through a phase”, while more often than not this is not the case.
Individuals with an eating disorder are more likely to hide their behavior or deny that it is a problem to begin with, because of the shame associated with being diagnosed. As a result, a large amount of individuals with eating disorders will likely go undiagnosed and untreated because they do not think they have ever had a problem. Reducing and eliminating the stigma associated with individuals who have eating disorders should enable these people to seek the help that they need.
–Kyla Bledsoe, Staff Writer