National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW), a week-long series of events dedicated to educating communities about eating disorders, is taking place this week as groups across UR work together to organize a multitude of events and programs.
The mission of NEDAW, which is a campaign not only on college campuses but in communities across every American state and in various other countries, is to “increase outreach and awareness of eating disorders and body image issues” and “to recognize the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that shape the disorder” across both the country and worldwide, according to the NEDAwareness website.
“It’s another way to reduce stigma on campus for all mental illnesses,” junior and president of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology, Clint Cantwell said.
This week’s programs at UR are varied and numerous and aim to include as many students as possible, both male and female.
Events range from tables featuring themes like “What Do You Love About Your Body?” to a discussion about the influence of consumerism on body image with Psychology Professor Marie-Joelle Estrada, to “A Day Without Mirrors,” where all mirrors are covered in Wilson Commons to emphasize how “beauty isn’t what you see in the mirror,” as junior and president of Active Minds Haley Harnicher described.
University Health Service (UHS), Health Promotion Office, and the University Counseling Center (UCC) teamed up with five student groups: Active Minds, UR SEGway, Psi Chi, Psychology Undergraduate Council, and Gamma Phi Beta.
The objective was to create a schedule of powerful and influential programs for the student body that are both educational and informative so that students can better understand what eating disorders truly are, and how they can be dealt with at UR.
Associate Director for Health Promotion at UHS Linda Dudman said that one of the greatest parts of the week is the collaboration between students and UHS faculty alike.
“Working together and having it be not just something that our office does but something that we do with students, together, is very important,” Dudman said.
Although NEDAW has existed at UR as a part of the “Feel Fabulous in February” month since 1998 when it began, student involvement and the scope of the program have drastically increased substantially since then.
Early National Disorders Screening Days on Campus, days on which students have the opportunity to be surveyed about eating behaviors and attitudes to meet with counselors, only 10-15 students taking part in the event. However, 76 students took advantage of the occasion, last year’s Screening Day.
This year’s Screening Day will take place on Thursday, Feb 27 from 11:30 am -1:00 pm and 5:00-6:30 pm outside the Friel Lounge.
“I think that it’s really great that we’re opening up this conversation, and I hope that the conversation spans for more than just this week,” junior and president of UR SEGway Emily Sumner said.
Despite the fact that eating disorders are often associated with women, the female-to-male ratio of positive screenings of eating disorders is 3-to-1, a number much higher than many expect, according to NEDA.
“It doesn’t show up the same in men as it does in women,” Cantwell said. “A lot of men go to the gym, buff up, and just don’t eat a lot, and in reality, they’re just damaging their bodies.”
Cantwell said that the amount of mental illness and eating disorder awareness events has expanded over the past few years, and that he believes that this impact will becoming increasingly noticeable as time goes on.
“All of these small events together get built up, they can change,” Sumner said. “That’s what makes change: a combination of small events that are slowly planting a seed in somebody’s head.”
Douglas is a member of the class of 2017.