Eating disorders aren’t relegated to sporadic demographics – they can strike anyone of any age in any part of the world. But it’s the youth of the world who are at greatest risk of getting the help they need to overcome and continue to address the issue as they age.
One positive step in getting these young people some help involves getting others to speak out about what they’ve experienced with their eating disorder. Without these stories, young men and women will continue to believe the misconceptions about their illness and fail to seek out guidance, either from their families or from professionals. These stories, shared on tape/film, can be a good introduction to individuals currently facing the problem alone and giving them the strength to talk to someone about their disorder.
It is difficult to talk about an illness that has been kept secret for any length of time. Therefore, once the afflicted comes out, it’s important that their first interaction is a positive one, which can affect how they continue to seek treatment. In the case where the individual hasn’t yet completely developed a disorder but is in the first stages, the first interaction can often dissuade a worse case, which is why early detection and intervention is crucial.
Young people stepping forward with their problem need to feel that they are respected and not that they’ve committed a crime. They need an environment where they can explain themselves and an audience that will listen without judgment. Furthermore, youths with an eating disorder don’t want to be indentified as a “person with an eating disorder,” because it’s only a side effect of a larger emotional issue that doesn’t fully describe who they are.
Taking charge of one’s mental health is not as taboo as it was once thought to be, and many more youths are becoming aware that therapy carries no more of a stigmatism than going to a medical doctor for a physical.