The PAGE Center is holding an eating disorder support group for students this semester every Tuesday. Titled “The Friend I Never Wanted,” the group meets every week to provide each other with ways to overcome their struggles.
“It was one of the things that when we surveyed the individuals coming into the PAGE Center, and students across the board, it was a topic that they wanted to talk about,” Terri Hoover, intern at PAGE and co-facilitator of the group said.
Support groups are useful resources to discuss sensitive topics such as eating disorders. They allow for individuals to come together and share their own stories and coping mechanisms.
“The biggest benefit is knowing that there is somebody else out there that’s struggling the same as you,” Hoover said.
Some struggling may be hesitant to reach out and talk for their own personal reasons. In response, Hoover wants to promote the fact they're not alone.
“It’s a safe space for them to say what they want to say, or need to say, and get it off their chest. Once you say these things, or you address these things, then you start dealing with them and you start figuring out ways to heal,” Hoover said.
Hoover described the PAGE Center as “be all, do all.” Even if one is not a part of a group that the PAGE Center works heavily with, such as the LGBTQ+ community, they are still more than welcome in the space.
Eating disorders are mental illnesses which affect one both mentally and physically. They can seriously affect one’s social and functional behavior. National Eating Disorders Collaboration notes that they are rising in prevalence, with a lifetime estimate of 8.4% in women and 2.2% in men.
According to statistics from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, eating disorders affect 9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans. It’s recorded that 10,200 deaths each year are a direct result of an eating disorder, and 26% of people suffering attempt suicide.
Cases of eating disorders are often traced back to comments made about their appearance from family or peers.
“I think that’s the biggest thing is people saying things to individuals about their weight. It seems to be a pretty common theme across the board,” Hoover said.
Hoover believes the PAGE Center should carry this group into following semesters and suggests the addition of holding an event to raise awareness.
The PAGE Center is located in CUB 232, and “The Friend I Never Wanted” group meets Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m. Students can get into contact with the PAGE Center by emailing Sahara McGrath at email@example.com.