Luther College Chips

Counseling services needs proper tools to address eating disorders

Gillian Klein, Staff Writer

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The first result that popped up on my Google search was “common.” 200,000 cases occur per year with approximately one death as a direct result every 62 minutes. Eating disorders. Not just anorexia or bulimia or binge, but also EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified), avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder, and diabulimia.

Many more could be added to that list, but that’s not my purpose in this piece. Listing the multitude of eating disorders that exist won’t make readers read this piece, in fact, you would have probably never finished this sentence if I had kept going.

Eating disorders have been on my mind, especially due to the fact that this past week was National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) week. Most readers are likely scratching their heads at this point, trying to recall if there was a campus organization or event to acknowledge NEDA week.

Don’t stress yourself trying to remember because there’s nothing to remember. Luther did nothing to take advantage of a week dedicated to educating and celebrating the uprising advocacy for eating disorders.

Luther’s willingness to address anxiety and depression head-on are impossible to miss. Between the quiet solitude of the Zen Den to the “all are welcome” mantra of counseling services, our school is a seemingly loud advocate for the general wellness of students. But zoom in on this image and something is unsettling. Why aren’t we acknowledging the deadliest mental illness in the US?

“For a school that aims to address every branch of wellness, we are two steps behind.”

-Gillian Klein (20)

There is currently a mortality rate of 1 in 10 individuals succumbing to the disease’s insidious grasp. I was disheartened for a short period of time because we all want the stories we know or the things we cherish to matter to the world around us like they matter to us.

However, people don’t talk about things unless you make people want to talk about them. It’s time to supply reasons to start talking. And the first thing we need to understand is that eating disorders are a spectrum, from minor disordered eating to medically diagnosed.

Furthermore, the National Eating Disorder Association found that most eating disorder behaviors begin between the ages of 18-21 years old, also the time most people happen to be enrolled in college. Yet as a 20-year-old student here on campus, I find myself biking or driving off-campus each week to attend therapy sessions because Luther has no therapists trained to address eating disorder or disordered-eating patients. I found help because in-patient treatment for my more extreme case of disordered eating taught me how to build a support system.

But what about the students who don’t know how or where to find resources? What about people who are not directly affected, but want to know more for their loved ones or just because? I believe that people are not ashamed of eating disorders, but uncertain how to talk about them.

We fear the things we do not understand. The root of this problem all starts with the seeds of our silence. We don’t talk because we fear. We don’t know how to talk or what to talk about. For a school that aims to address every branch of wellness, we are two steps behind.

A revelation came to me as I concluded this piece: Luther’s campus does not need convincing to care. We do care. But giving people the resources to know how to talk about how they care is where we need to begin.


Gillian Klein (‘20)

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