Awareness week aims to destigmatize eating disorders

Infographic by Sarah Butler
Infographic by Sarah Butler

Student organization Active Minds at VCU helped bring attention to National Eating Disorder Awareness Week last week on campus.

Infographic by Sarah Butler
Infographic by Sarah Butler

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, according to the National Eating Disorder Association.

“A common misconception would be that people ‘choose’ to have an eating disorder, and that’s so incredibly false,” said Jaki Dybuvarang, vice president of Active Minds at VCU, a national organization dedicated to eradicating the stigma associated with mental illness.

This year’s National Eating Disorder Awareness week theme was “3 Minutes Can Save a Life: Get Screened. Get Help. Get Healthy,” and encouraged people to complete a confidential screening, which is available online.

Although the screening is not an official diagnosis, the results of the quiz might determine if one should seek professional help.

“An eating disorder is a serious illness that affects someone mentally and physically,” Dybuvarang said. “Someone can choose to pursue treatment, however recovery is a long and hard journey for most that requires proper treatment.”

According to a South Carolina Department of Mental Health report, one in 200 American women suffer from anorexia, and 2-3 percent of women suffer from bulimia.

As many as 10 percent of college women suffer from a clinical or nearly-clinical eating disorder, including 5.1 percent who suffer from bulimia nervosa, according to the report.

Dybuvarang’s organization, Active Minds began a chapter at VCU last fall.

Last week, the student organization held events on campus to educate the community about the mental illness, and increase access to potentially life-saving treatment.

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On Monday, VCU researcher Carley Lovell and counselor Adina Silvestri gave a talk discussing the signs of binge eating disorder, ways to get help, community programs and its effects on VCU students.

Lovell is currently studying to find the biological and social components that go into a student binge eating or drinking.

“Silence really does kill and we tried to emphasize that this whole week,” Dybuvarang said.

Dybuvarang agreed with Silvestri’s points about how binge eating is a private disease because it can cause shame or guilt for the person suffering, but they they should search for help.

Tuesday, Active Minds at VCU launched the social media campaign #LoveYourSelfie, which encourages students to post a filter-free picture of themselves with the hashtag. 

Free eating disorder screenings were also available last Wednesday for students in the commons.

On Thursday, #TrashTheScale took place in the student commons. Active Minds at VCU promoted focusing on your health instead of the number on the scale.

Friday’s screening of the film “America the Beautiful” was postponed until Monday, March 21.


Staff Writer, Sophia Belletti

Sophia Belletti, Photo by Brooke MarshSophia is a sophomore print/online journalism major with a minor in gender, sexuality and women’s studies. She enjoys writing about current events and sports and hopes to one day be a sports reporter, covering soccer, basketball and baseball. You can usually find Sophia drinking way too much coffee and laughing at her own jokes. // Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

bellettisr@commonwealthtimes.org

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