For the countless students attending colleges and universities across the nation, there is a need for eating disorder resources for the many issues that may arise during this exciting and challenging time period.
The time spent in college is considered to be a high-risk period for the development of eating disorders for several reasons, including the following:
- Increased freedom and responsibility to make independent choices
- Heightened social and peer pressures
- Rigorous demands from an intense school/work schedule
- Relocation to a new city/state/country, etc.
This, in combination with genetic, cultural, and psychological risk factors, can influence the onset of an eating disorder during the college years for a student.
Any time periods in one’s life that involve significant transition can be a triggering factor for someone who may already be susceptible to having an eating disorder. In the case of a college student, experiencing several new transitions at once when preparing to go to college can be overwhelming with which to deal.
Having poor coping mechanisms can increase susceptibility to engaging in eating disorder behaviors. This presents the need for eating disorder resources that can help in the prevention developing an eating disorder or the treatment of one.
Seek Help Immediately for an Eating Disorder
Whether a student is struggling with Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder, body image concerns, low-self esteem, or some form of disordered eating, it is critical to seek help as early as possible to prevent tragic or even fatal consequences from developing. Early identification and treatment interventions for an eating disorder can improve overall prognosis, making it more likely that a college student will experience a full recovery.
What most students do not realize is that they have a multitude of resources available to them right on their college campus and in their local community. Due to lack of knowledge about eating disorder resources and the fear of stigma surrounding mental health issues and eating disorders, students may not seek the help they need until it is too late.
Thankfully, with the greater awareness that is being drawn towards eating disorders, more colleges and universities offer a variety of resources to students who may be struggling with these severe mental health issues.
On Campus Eating Disorder Resources for Recovery
Here are some eating disorder resources that may be available to you or your loved one who is struggling with an eating disorder while away at college:
- College Counseling Center: Most universities and colleges will have a wellness center on campus that offers mental health services. This may include individual therapy, group therapy sessions, and access to a psychiatrist. Even if there is no immediate access to a counselor, therapist or psychiatrist on campus, wellness centers should be equipped with resources for referrals within the community. Counseling and Wellness Centers are a great place to start to find information for treatment and to get connected to the necessary help for support.
- Nutrition Therapy: Because of the prevalence of eating disorders on college campuses and many concerns that arise around food/weight, the wellness center may be staffed with a dietitian on campus. Scheduling appointments for nutrition therapy can be helpful in navigating through the challenges a student might face in regards to their meals, body concerns, or weight issues.
- Support Groups: Finding a support group is a great way to access accountability and to connect with other peers who may also be suffering from similar issues. Support groups create a safe environment to vent concerns and struggles and to gain valuable advice and feedback. Be sure to check with the wellness center for a list of support groups both on campus and in your community. Support groups are usually free or require a very minimal fee, which can be a helpful option to a student with little resources.
- Online Options: As awareness of eating disorders has increased, so has the availability of eating disorder resources online. This includes a fantastic community of mentors, supporters, online forums, and more that can provide much needed resources for supporting recovery. Eating Disorder Hope also has the College Hope program, which details information for connecting with treatment options. Organizations such as Eating Disorder Hope, the National Eating Disorder Association, and the Academy for Eating Disorders, offer directories that list specialists and treatment centers across the nation. If you are looking to connect with a treatment provider to address eating disorder issues you are facing, these can be helpful resources for finding the assistance you need.
If you are unable to connect with resources on your college campus, consider searching in your local community. You can ask for referral sources directly from your wellness center on campus or from your health insurance provider.
You may be able to at least connect with an outpatient provider off campus or a treatment center that offers free support groups in the community. Many treatment centers offer part time or intensive outpatient programs that could be done in conjunction with your school schedule if appropriate.
Eating disorders are grave concerns and should never be taken lightly. While the disease would cause you to isolate from loved ones and others who want to help you get well, it is important to understand that you cannot overcome this alone.
Know that you have many options available to you that can help you get started on your journey to recovery. Your life is valuable and you do not need to suffer in silence.