Finding a Support Group in College

9060688707_c0965b8e52_zGoing to college is quite an exciting opportunity, full of excitement and adventure. However, applying to college can often be overwhelming. The multiple essays all asking a differentiation on basically the same question, SAT and ACT scores, and the amount of time spent on each individual application may often be filled with frustration.

Once the applications are finally finished they are sent out and the waiting game begins. After what seems like an eternity the letters are finally returned carrying your fate.

Inside the envelope is a piece of paper which will either have the word accepted, rejected or wait-listed, the latter two being a disappointment.

Preparing for a New Chapter in Life

Often times it is the letters which determine or narrow down the choice on which college to attend. This often makes the decision easier, however, if you received several acceptance letters a choice will still need to be made.

Whichever is the case, after the choice is made the school is contacted and now it is time to prepare for one of the biggest periods of change that will ever be experienced.

Living Away from Your Childhood Familiarities

Moving off to college whether it is in the same city you have always lived, or it is across the country, is quite different. Living on campus, accelerated classes, choosing a major, and getting involved in the local community or a campus group is all apart of the college experience.

College is a unique time unlike any other time of your life. The opportunities offered are vast and unique. No other point in life will you be as carefree or open as you are in college. College is also a time to develop your autonomy and independence, as well as to explore different areas that may interest you, professionally and academically. College students also have the opportunity to meet and nurture new relationships, as well as develop new social circles.

Feelings of Insecurity Can Often Arise

With all of the opportunities offered it is easy to become overwhelmed by the college lifestyle. Events occur often and many can develop the fear of missing out along with the dread of not being involved enough.

The class load, not even to mention the homework, can often be difficult to keep up with. Also, it is easy to become submerged underneath the new environment filled with a variety of people. It is during this time of unsteadiness that finding a stabilizing force is necessary.

Getting Through College With Extra Challenges at Hand

For the college student who may be struggling with an eating disorder or attempting to maintain eating disorder recovery, the transition to school can bring many triggers and challenges. Adjusting to the changes that come with college life while learning to maintain the steps needed for eating disorder recovery can quickly become overwhelming. The stresses and pressure that comes from this often become debilitating, especially in a new environment.

In order to create some stability, it is important to find an eating disorder support group that has a safe and welcoming environment. This should become another criterion when searching for a college, especially when in the eating disorder recovery process. Having a history of an eating disorder can put you at increased risk when transitioning to college, so seeking out a support system ahead of time can help you maintain your own eating disorder recovery.

Finding Available Support Groups

Typically before applying to colleges, there is a list of the ones which you would desire to attend. Once the list is made, look at the school’s website, or Facebook page. Often a college will have a site for new and current students, managed by the students themselves. These pages will often list out the types of clubs and student organizations which the school offers.

Many colleges do offer mental health services or resources for those struggling with eating disorders. There may be free support groups on campus or offered through your campus wellness center. Do your research ahead of time and investigate what may be offered at the schools you are considering.

Other Resources Available At College

Smiling girl in a Support GroupIf the student website does not show any of the programs, or if they do not seem to have a recovery group, the next step would be to look at the resources offered by the college.

Many colleges offer a free counseling center, where licensed therapists are available to talk and give support. The counseling center is a great resource for students who would desire a one on one discussion with a professional who is available to listen and deliver a bit of wisdom.

Extending Your Search Beyond College

If from the website and a visit it is clear that the school does not offer any type of support or recovery group, then the next option would be to look into the city. Often college towns offer different amenities which cater to the students.

It is typically easy to find a local recovery group either offered by the city or one of the local churches. These groups can be a good way to create a support system off of campus, where an accountability relationship can be created.

There are many different types of groups to choose from. Many cities offer a group called Celebrate Recovery which takes a holistic approach to healing, rather than only focusing on the disorder. In order to find the best fit for you, check your local chapters of overeaters anonymous, CR, and other support groups.

Local eating disorder treatment centers may also offer free support groups, and this may be another option to consider if your campus mental health resources are limited.

Setting up a support group can be a helpful means of accountability for any college student in eating disorder recovery.

Contributed by Kate Bader

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

Published August 30, 2017
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 30, 2017
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