Helping Others To Help Themselves

Photo by Dana Schmerzler.
Photo by Dana Schmerzler.
Photo by Dana Schmerzler.

In the United States, only one out of every 10 people suffering from eating disorders seeks help. The other 90 percent remain untreated.

The name of SUNY New Paltz’s three-week old club, “R10ts Not Diets,” is derived from this statistic Club President, third-year media production and management major, Carissa Cancel said.

Cancel said she started her blog “R10ts Not Diets,” to raise awareness and offer support to people suffering from eating disorders. She said her blog started as a class assignment and in time transformed into a group recognized by the New Paltz Student’s Clubs and Associations.

“I had a couple of requests to make a club and a bunch of followers,” Cancel said. “I decided it was a good idea to make the club.”

The club held it first meeting on Oct. 24 in SUB 407. Although the club’s Facebook group has over 200 likes, not nearly that many showed.

Despite a turn-out of only five students, Cancel said she wants to encourage more to come and use the club as a support group.

Cancel said she feels that people may be embarrassed to come out to the meetings because of how others will view them. She said she will continue to encourage people not to feel ashamed and instead to attend meetings and openly confront their issues.

“I want people to feel comfortable coming to the meetings,” Cancel said. “These meetings should be seen as a place for me to come for support in an open atmosphere.”

Director of the Psychological Counseling Center Dr. Gweneth Lloyd said eating disorders are a “very prevalent issue in college age students,” but also said that the onset can start during the teen years or even younger.

She said that eating disorders can develop from various issues, including negative relationships with parents, peers and partners. The media is another main source contributing to the onset of eating disorders among young adults, Lloyd said.

“People are given a lot of mixed messages from the media,” she said, “both male and female.”

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website, over 20 million  woman and 10 million men in the United States suffer from a “clinically significant eating disorder” at some point in their life.

Lloyd said that people suffering from an eating disorder are at greater risk to other health problems, including negative impacts on the cardiovascular, respiratory, oral and digestive systems.

“The malnourishment creates a whole range of other medical problems for them. Eating disorders are similar to a drug or alcohol addiction,” said Lloyd. “It’s very emotionally, psychologically and physically painful.”

While Lloyd said that she is in support of raising awareness and combating eating disorders, she said it is important that students suffering from eating disorders should not use “R10ts Not Diets” as an alternative to seeking additional professional help.

The Psychological Counseling Center is located in the Student Health and Counseling Center on the SUNY New Paltz campus.

Lloyd said she wants to encourage anyone who is seeking help for them self or someone they know to contact the center.  Their number is 845-257-2920.