WANA, an on-campus eating disorder support group, participated in National Eating Disorder Awareness week during the first week of March.
WANA, short for We Are Not Alone, started four years ago with a main focus on raising awareness for the prevalence of eating disorders and provide a safe place for those who struggle with them.
The National Eating Disorders Association week was Feb. 26 through March 4 and is the main time of year that WANA attempts to reach out to those in need of help. Statistics from their website show two out of every five women will experience some type of eating disorder in their lifetime with the highest percentage of eating disorders occurring between ages 13-25.
“Eating disorders are a common problem on campus, so we want to let anyone struggling know that they have a place to feel safe and get support,” said junior psychology major and WANA group leader Kaila Bellinghausen. “We want to help each person move forward in recovery and start to learn healthy ways to cope.”
Dr. Richard Beck, chair of the Department of Psychology, provides expertise in the fields of emotional disorders.
“I think the pressure on women to maintain a certain weight, on TV, in the media and even in their own home,” Beck said. “I think diet and food becomes a form of control, and when people feel out of control, things like that happen.”
Kaylee Bane, freshmen biochemistry major, is a member of WANA and said she joined the group because of her own battles with an eating disorder.
“I suffer from an eating disorder myself and I know how it feels to be isolated and alone,” Bane said. “WANA supports me in my decisions and helps me achieve goals to make myself better.”
Bellinghausen expressed that having a support group can be an essential tool for those suffering with eating disorders.
“It’s important because it’s hard to have an eating disorder and difficult to face alone.” Bellinghausen said. “I think having accountability and a support group is very important and very special.”