Feb. 22. marks the beginning of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week: five days dedicated to educating the public about everything and anything related to eating disorders. The University of Connecticut, in collaboration with other student organizations, hosts numerous events that all students are encouraged to attend.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, “full-blown eating disorders typically begin between 18-21 years of age” and the college lifestyle can easily trigger disordered eating. With the pressures of schoolwork, a changing environment and having to truly fend for yourself, college can become a drastic adjustment period for many individuals.
“According to the National Eating Disorder Association, “full-blown eating disorders typically begin between 18-21 years of age” and the college lifestyle can easily trigger disordered eating.”
Despite COVID-19 limiting the amount of on-campus events that can take place, UConn’s S.H.A.P.E. (Students Helping to Achieve Positive Esteem) has organized a few activities that will help raise awareness. According to the Student Health and Wellness’s website, S.H.A.P.E. “is a peer education group that strives to promote accepting attitudes towards all body shapes and sizes while helping to encourage self-esteem and positive body image.” For this specific week, they have created a Kahoot game that UConn students can take up to five times per day. The quiz will test their knowledge of eating disorders, and each person has a chance to win a $5 Dunkin’ gift card.
S.H.A.P.E. is one of the many resources students have at their fingertips. A second resource is The Eating Disorders Support Team, a group of professionals who will help students receive specific care, including medical, psychological and psychiatric evaluations, as well as female services and nutritional counseling. Students can refer themselves, or can be referred by a friend/family member or healthcare professional. The Nutrition & Physical Activity Services is also a resource that students can use when struggling with eating disorders, or even just body image. They provide free nutrition counseling by registered dietitians, presentations and even free physical activity counseling by a certified fitness professional. Furthermore, they can point you to specific individuals and other resources that may help you.
One of the most important things to realize when struggling with body-related issues is that you’re not alone. While it can be a daunting and traumatizing time, UConn has implemented resources that are specifically designed to help with these struggles, and that want to help. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please do not hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals on our campus. Their job is to help you.
NEDA has organized hotlines that one can call if needed. Call 800-931-2237 Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or text 800-931-2237 Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. There are also chat options available on their website, as well as a multitude of other resources one can use to inform themselves.
For further information, the NEDA website can be found here.