Colleges nationwide are grappling with a significant increase in body image and eating concerns among their students, both male and female. Universities are a prime setting for recognition of these issues. However, it is important to note that even if resources are available on campus, your student body may not be aware of them. Universities have found that they need to be very proactive in their outreach efforts to students.
Ideally, planning outreach activities should include all departments on campus (Dean’s Office, Residential Life, Student Health Center, and Athletic Departments), not just practitioners in the counseling centers. The focus has to be reaching out to both potential students in crisis, and the community as a whole, so that each student, administrator, and professor, will know exactly how to support someone who is dealing with this life-threatening illness.
Unfortunately, not all students may realize the seriousness of their body image issues and/or disordered eating. And even for those that do, they may not feel comfortable letting others know about their concerns. Holding a campus awareness event is an effective way to bring this issue out of the darkness and into the light, while also decreasing the stigma that many with this illness experience. Participating in one of these activities could be the opening for them to come forward. The good news is that campuses all over the country have been finding creative ways to educate their students on this topic. National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, held during the month of February, is a time when awareness events take place on campuses nationwide.