Eating Disorder Support Group Creates Safe Space

Article Written by Natalie Aguilar and Alicia McGowan

A new and safe place for students to talk about eating disorders and general body image issues has graced the town of New Paltz.  

The Eating Disorder Support Group is an inclusive group for students to feel comfortable and welcomed. It provides an outlet for people of all ages who are struggling with body image issues as well as problems such as excessive eating, binging and purging. The group is confidential and anonymous. Membership is not necessary but Hayley Morales, a second-year Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies and art education major said consistency is great and anyone is welcomed to join. 

“My goal is to give those struggling with an eating disorder a safe place to feel understood and have support,” Morales said. 

The support group will not be in the format of Overeaters Anonymous (OA) or a 12 step program. However, it is a group where members will have the  option to talk about their issues and receive support that they may not have received before. 

Morales created the support group for students to communicate their feelings and understand that they are not facing these struggles alone. The idea stemmed from a class when she was doing a project about eating disorder awareness. After talking to people online and listening to a wide array of stories, she saw how prevalent eating disorders were and the lack of help that they received.

Second-year sociology major Amanda Drucker was involved in Morales’ body positivity project and described it as an empowering moment where different body types were photogrpahed and explored through artistc means. 

“The main point was that eating disorders can happen to anyone. No one is alone in it and many people are suffering that we do not know about,” said Drucker. 

Statistics from the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) say that, “young people between the ages of 15 and 24 with anorexia have 10 times the risk of dying compared to their same-aged peers.”   

Furthermore, in the U.S. today, at least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder and every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder, according The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD).

These Statistics from ANAD and NEDA highlight the need for more resources, especially for young people who are generally more at risk for these issues. 

“There was a lack of support and resources for those struggling,” Morales said. “I started calling up churches and facilities around New Paltz to see what they would charge for rent and started reaching out to women from my project and through Facebook.”

Morales, who currently suffers from EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) is in recovery and through this group, she wishes to create a place where all are understood, whether their issue is a disorder or a general body image issue. 

Meetings for the Eating Disorder Support Group will be held on Wednesdays at 6:15 p.m. in the building behind Family of New Paltz on North Chestnut Street. All are welcome.