This article originally appeared in The Beacon student newspaper on March 3, 2009.
By Eileen Louissant
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week was recognized at Palm Beach Atlantic University last week to alert students of the dangers of eating disorders and the importance of promoting positive body images.
“Eating disorders are usually accompanied by secretiveness and shame, so many students do not seek help,” said Andrea Dyben, university counselor at PBA. “National Eating Disorders Awareness Week helps these students to understand that they are not alone, they do not need to be ashamed and that there is help. ”
Health and Wellness held a special chapel event, “Made in His Image!” last Friday. The event included student testimonies from those who have suffered with personal body image issues and how God has impacted their lives in this area.
“The body image issues that surround eating disorders can stay hidden too easily if an opportunity to address these issues from a public forum is not encouraged on a regular basis,” said Vince Diller, director of Health and Wellness.
In addition to the chapel, a NEDAW workshop was held last Saturday in the Lassiter Student Center. It featured interactive dialogue of case studies that could be used in real life scenarios involving individuals who might be struggling with an eating disorder.
“The discussion will be focused on practical situations that either have been presented to our staff in the past or those that will be brought by the participants,” Diller said, in preparation for the workshop. “We will not be sharing private information but will be sharing how certain behaviors and responses to behavior can be addressed before things escalate into a dysfunctional pattern.”
NEDAW is aimed for those at risk and for those who may be already be suffering from an eating disorder. The NEDAW has been recognized annually since 1987 and is the largest eating disorders outreach effort, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Events took place across the country and all were aimed at promoting healthy body image. NEDAW has been recognized at PBA for over five years.
According to the National Eating Disorder Awareness Association, as many as ten million females and one million males are fighting a life-threatening eating disorder and millions more struggle with binge eating disorder in the United States alone.
Only a third of those suffering from anorexia and 6 percent with bulimia receive medical attention, Dyben said.
On PBA campus, 13 students took the correct steps in presenting eating concerns to Dyben last year. Health and Wellness provides brochures and handouts for anyone looking for information on eating disorder, which have caused more deaths each year than any other mental illness according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
Students can contact the Health and Wellness at 561-803-2576 to schedule an appointment. Students can check out the referral list on the counseling page at MyPBA.com for references to counseling and psychiatric providers in Palm Beach County. All referred services have been screened by Health and Wellness.