The Student Counseling Services Center promoted healthy and safe outlets for students in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Day in the Student Center on Thursday, Feb. 23. A table was set up which provided confidential and free screenings for body image and eating concerns.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “90% of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25.” However, it is not only young women who experience eating disorders. The American Psychiatric Association says, “Men constitute 40% of those exhibiting Binge Eating Disorder.”
The American Psychiatric Association adds that, “the onset of Binge Eating Disorder usually occurs during the late adolescence or in the early twenties.” Quite aware of this statistic, the Student Counseling Services Center tabled an event in the Student Center to encourage all students to be screened for potential eating disorders as well as offered informational brochures.
Dr. Daniel Rinaldi of the Student Counseling Services Center said of the event, “This is National Eating Disorders Awareness Day. Every year now we have been coming out to the Student Center to table about the event. We talk about undereating and overeating. We have a lot of informational brochures out on the table for people to read. We also have screeners to see if people are healthy with their eating habits.”
The difficulty of facing a disorder is on a spectrum and is different for each individual. However, Dr. Rinaldi said, “The hardest part about having an eating disorder is that it is so socially reinforced. Looking a certain way is enforced by family, friends and society at large. The thing about an eating disorder is that you have to eat and there are food and mirrors everywhere, so it is especially difficult.”
Perhaps the greatest stigma about eating disorders in the U.S. derives from the notion that it is only women who suffer. However, this idea has no basis in reality as eating disorders affect people of every sex, ethnicity and background. “As of right now, the majority of people affected by an eating disorder are female. We are seeing an increasing amount of young men affected by eating disorders over the past decade. It’s not just young women anymore,” Dr. Rinaldi said. “People have an image of what an eating disorder looks like. However, it affects anyone, especially anyone under pressure to look a certain way such as someone who plays sports or in performing arts who feel they have to look a certain way.”
The Student Counseling Services Center aims to increase the general student health on campus and help alleviate the stigma surrounding eating disorders. Dr. Rinaldi said, “I believe that this tabling event increases the chance that students will reach out for treatment.”