Women’s Resource Center works to help students suffering from eating disorders
Every Monday, the Women’s Resource Center offers walk-in hours for students dealing with harmful eating disorders and unhealthy perspectives of body image.
This is a chance for both men and women to sit down with a peer and get one-on-one counseling or group therapy so they don’t have to deal with these problems alone.
The Women’s Resource Center sees students from all backgrounds. Some are worried about their personal eating habits and body image. Others have actual disorders.
Kara Derner, who has a pre-doctorate in psychological health from Minnesota, is an intern at the center and has spent four years working with adults and adolescents who have eating disorders.
“There is a wide variety (of students) coming in,” she said. “Some are just coming to school here, living in the dorms and making the transition with eating issues that are already there.”
“Stress heightens these issues: Lack of sleep, changes in schedule, staying up late … can cause an alarm for students, so they come to see us,” Derner said.
But she said weight loss caused by stress and lack of sleep is “a natural human process.”
However, it is good to catch potentially harmful patterns as soon as possible.
Sometimes, helping a student with unhealthy eating patterns isn’t always easy. Poor eating habits, like cutting something from your diet or withholding food, can lead to full-blown eating disorders if they aren’t recognized as a pattern to self-destruction.
In some cases, students need outside assistance, based on their symptom levels and histories with the disorder.
“We may refer (the student) in the throes of an eating disorder – with all the symptoms for the disorder – to more intensive therapy,” Derner said.
Issues with personal body image are seen a lot at the Women’s Resource Center.
One of the reasons Derner wanted to help others with eating disorders is because of images in mainstream media.
“After taking the sociology of gender roles and seeing stereotypes for each gender (in ads, on TV, in magazines), I started focusing on specifically gender issues,” she said. “People are being sold products with beautiful people on them, and the product has nothing to do with beauty … or (the product) will say you’re ugly, but you won’t be if you use this.”
Derner said she wants to spend her life helping others. She plans to focus on helping those with eating disorders and body image and to let them know someone is there to help.
“I meet so many talented, amazing people who are given the message that something isn’t right with them,” she said. “They hear it, I hear it, from everywhere. I wanted to make a difference.”