Six Students, One Powerful Message

‘The SHE blog’ is written by SHE College student Mel. As an intern for the college of SHE and a Peer Learning Advisor, Mel is passionate about sharing ideas and highlighting the services available to you in order to make uni life just a little easier.

This week, the blog interviewed a group of students about a project they are collaborating on to raise awareness of eating disorders amongst La Trobe students. United through an online subject, and with a genuine interest in the topic, these second year students have a powerful message to share.  Their assessment for Community Health Promotion (PHE2CHP) requires them to develop a health promotion program about eating disorders for La Trobe University students. They identified the lack of conversation around this issue and decided to make it a topic for discussion.

Eating disorders: let’s start the conversation

They want to:

  • Raise awareness about eating disorders and symptoms of disordered eating patterns experienced by 18 to 25-year-olds
  • Provide resources to promote seeking professional assistance
  • Provide ways for individuals to start conversations
  • Promote services that assist individuals

Meet the Group:

We asked a few questions, and here is what they had to say.

Q: Why did you choose this topic?

“Due to the secret behaviour of eating disorders, they often go unnoticed in loved ones, and individuals will hide them from the world. Eating disorders are increasing, and due to COVID-19 families and individuals are noticing the prevalence more than ever before, but help can be hard to find. [People with] eating disorders also have high levels of life dissatisfaction and [this] can lead to suicide, and we want to prevent that for university students and the population.”

The group reported that according to the Butterfly Foundation, body image is the fourth most recorded issue when discussing mental health. Alarmingly, one in 20 young people live with an eating disorder, which equates to one or two students per class at uni.

“Eating disorders are often seen as too taboo to talk about, and as a result, receive little attention. However, as a topic that covers everything from disordered eating and body image through to diagnosed mental illnesses, it is important to remove the stigma attached to these experiences in order for those living with them to feel comfortable seeking help.”

Q: What is the message that you want to promote?

“The aim of this post is in hope of meeting two of our objectives, bringing awareness to eating disorders and increasing help-seeking behaviours.”

The group want to increase our education around eating disorders and emphasise that there is support available. However, they also highlight that we all have a part to play by:

  • Creating discussions around empowering body positivity, and moving away from the focus of how a person looks.
  • Changing our social standards and moving away from idolising ‘skinny = happy’.
  • Learning the warning signs to help yourself, friends, or family
  • Embracing and supporting the health at every size principle
  • Completing their survey to help increase their understanding of your knowledge around eating disorders

Q: What are the warning signs?

Physical warning signsPhysiological warning signsBehavioural warning signs
Rapid weight loss, loss or disturbance in menstruation, decreased libido, fainting and dizziness, feeling tired but not sleeping well, lethargy and low energy, signs of vomiting, swelling on jaw and cheeks, bruised knuckles, bad breathPreoccupation with eating, food and weight and body shape, feeling anxious and irritable around mealtimes, feeling out of control around food, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foodsDieting, hiding food, secretive behaviour around food, frequent trips to the bathroom, vomiting signs, excessive exercise, extreme sensitivity around comments on body image

“Eating orders do not discriminate, and affect men and women of all ages and race.”

Q: If a student needs help, what can they do?

“The conversation is still young, and the issue is huge, but we want to empower individuals to seek help!”

Remember La Trobe university has a team waiting to support you too.  You can reach out to the La Trobe wellbeing team.  Book an appointment with them via this link.