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Free eating disorder screening sees big turn out

Words by Emily Fulmer

Photo by Yishan Li. Elizabeth Garlinger, a senior health communication major, talks with a student about the questionnaire participants filled out as part of the eating disorder screening on Feb. 22.

University Health Services and Body Acceptance Movement held its second annual eating disorder screening Wednesday afternoon in the Kent Student Center Ballroom.

The screening is part of BAM’s recognition of National Eating Disorder Awareness week.

Psychologists from the university’s Psychological Services and psychiatric nurse practitioner students from the College of Nursing conducted the screenings.

Scott Dotterer, the coordinator of the Office of Health Promotion, organized the event with Elizabeth Garlinger, a senior health communication student and the NEDA week coordinator of BAM.

“The screening is for anything that lies on the spectrum of eating disorders,” Garlinger says. “It is not a diagnostic tool.”

She says the organization anticipated that 75 students would participate in the screening this year. Participation was higher, however, than expected with 114 students screened at the event.

Dotterer, who also advises BAM, said students reacted positively to the first screening and wanted to see it again.

“Sometimes people go through the screening, and maybe it’s not so much of an issue of an eating disorder, maybe they just want to be able to eat a little healthier, maybe learn how to cook healthier,” Dotterer says. “Sometimes people just want a little bit more feedback in that area, but still it’s a good experience regardless of how the screening comes out.”

Dotterer describes the screenings as another service for students out of UHS and Psychological Services.

“Going through the process, students have a chance to complete certain areas of the screening form. They get it scored by members of BAM,” he says. “From there what they do is finish the rest of it and then they meet up with one of the mental health professionals who then interpret the scores for them.”

John Schell, the senior psychologist at UHS, served as one of the screeners.

“Our role as a screener is to essentially give feedback to students about their scores and how they may or may not be consistent with eating concerns or eating disorders,” Schell says. “A lot of it is to just raise awareness and provide some education and to help people know what the warning signs are or the red flags they should be looking for.”

As part of the screening, students are required to fill out a questionnaire about eating attitudes and certain behaviors towards food.

Students meet with a clinician after the questionnaire is completed. The clinicians will go over the student’s attitudes and behaviors, go over BMI and discuss anything that may be a point of concern.

Through the screening, mental health professionals make recommendations based on the screening’s results.

“(The screening) makes more of a legitimate claim of areas of concern rather than saying ‘you have this,’” Garlinger says. “You would have to go to a more clinical setting to have that diagnostic done.”

Schell says he hopes that these screenings will raise awareness about eating disorders and encourage those to get help if they feel they need it.

“There’s help out there, it’s available especially on campus for students who either may have dealt with an eating disorder in the past or may worry about developing one while they’re here,” Schell says.

Tara Kickert and Emily Gambone, both senior fashion merchandising students, attended the screening as extra credit for a class.

“I honestly came in here with no expectations,” Gambone says. “But we both thought it would be interesting.”

Gambone and Kickert both expressed that they felt body positivity was very important.

“I think having a bad body image of yourself really affects your quality of life and everything you do,” Kickert says.

After learning more about eating disorders at the screening, Kickert hopes that anyone who is concerned about eaging disorders will able to recognize it and know the steps to get better.

For more information about Body Acceptance Movement, visit the BAM Facebook Page.

For more information about the National Eating Disorder Association and NEDA week visit National Eating Disorders Awareness and NEDAwareness.

Emily Fulmer is the health reporter for The Burr. 

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