Eating disorders: An epidemic in colleges
Eating disorders have been an issue for young people for many years. Although the spotlight is now being placed on these mental health conditions far more in current years, there is still a long way to go to ensure those with disorders such as bulimia and anorexia are given the level of help they need and deserve.
Social and cultural pressures
A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders and the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has stated that eating disorders are fast becoming an epidemic in colleges around the world.
With such a pressure on young people to be thin due to social and cultural factors, the use of purging and binging as a weight management technique is rife within colleges.
The study found that around 25% of female college students use these techniques to keep themselves thin and in a survey of 185 female students, 83% of those dieted for weight loss despite 44% being of an average, healthy weight for their height and age.
These disturbing figures reflect upon the real pressure that so many college students face to be thin, even when they are already a healthy weight.
The physical and mental consequences
This irrational need and desire to be unhealthily thin is the main reason why so many young people develop mental health conditions, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
However, these disorders do not only affect the mind but can have devastating consequences on physical health too.
Eating disorders have been found to have the highest mortality rate of all mental health conditions and unfortunately, many of these deaths are going unnoticed.
This is because many that suffer from anorexia and bulimia ultimately die of heart failure, malnutrition or even suicide and those complications are recorded as a reason of death, rather than a sufferer’s ongoing mental health condition.
Education needed to dispel shame
Many cases of anorexia and bulimia in colleges also go unnoticed due to the stigma that surrounds them. Despite the fight against mental health disorders advancing at a rapid rate, there is still a great deal of shame attached to these issues.
Correct and factual education about eating disorders can often be rare and this leads to feelings of guilt and shame from families and suffers because they simply do not believe people will understand them or take them seriously.
NEDA fights stigma with Proud2Bme
To tackle the stigma and worries of those with eating disorders the NEDA has brought in the Proud2Bme initiative, aimed at helping young men and woman on campuses who have issues with body image. This initiative has been designed to help students appreciate themselves and gives them advice on how to look after their body and their mind.
This is just one initiative, but there are hundreds of others out there for those suffering from eating disorders. Directing the families, friends and suffers towards that help is the best way to combat the issues that come with mental health conditions and will lead them onto a better path for the future.