Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. They can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, and ethnicity. Across the United States, at least 30 million individuals battle an eating disorder. These facts, among others, should make it hard to debate the validity and seriousness of these mental illnesses that touch all of our lives―whether it be personally or through knowing someone who struggles. These facts make it clear that eating disorders deserve our attention. Yet, if you ask someone who struggles with an eating disorder, it’s likely they’ve dealt with an environment that doesn’t know how, or doesn’t want to, understand their story. It’s likely they have dealt with stigma, a stigma that keeps them from seeking out help to overcome their illness or recognize that they have one in the first place. But here’s the thing: we have the power to confront these barriers that are so isolating to individuals who have eating disorders. Every one of us can do something: we can get informed, use our voice, reflect on our own stereotypes we hold. We can listen.
Next week, Concordia College Active Minds is hosting Eating Disorders Awareness Week. We want to inform the campus community and spark intentional conversation regarding eating disorders and the seriousness of their impact on an individual’s life. We want to show those who struggle that they are not alone and that there is hope ahead. On Monday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. in Jones A/B, senior Hannah Steffens will be sharing her story to inform and inspire others. On Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in Jones A/B, Carmen Cool, a psychotherapist and activist, will be coming from Colorado to share insight from her clinical perspective, personal experience, and more. Besides these incredible speakers, Active Minds will be tabling in the atrium to get the campus community engaged in activities that raise awareness about eating disorders. Lastly, Lindsey Dusek will be helping us celebrate body positivity with Zumba at 8 pm in Olson Forum.
Let’s create an environment where those who struggle with an eating disorder feel supported, heard, and understood. Let’s bring the conversation out of the dark and into the light, where the stigma, stereotypes, and myths surrounding eating disorders are confronted. Change happens first with ourselves―and sometimes that change is as simple as getting informed and opening your eyes to someone else’s story. So, we hope to see you next week at the events planned, and more details can be found on our Facebook page at Concordia College Active Minds.