Project LETS Joins Forces with Active Minds and Project HEAL for #NEDAWeek

 Credit:  Lucia Huo

Credit: Lucia Huo

For National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Week, two Project LETS chapters-- Brown University and University of Pennsylvania-- united with chapters of Active Minds and Project HEAL to launch campus-wide educational initiatives, created for and by students with eating disorders. 

On February 25th, UPenn LETS and UPenn Project HEAL hosted the “LETS x HEAL” panel event, where students from both groups shared their experiences with eating disorders. One of the panelists, Hannah, has been in recovery from anorexia nervosa for the past three years; the panel was the first time she’d ever spoken about her experience in front of an audience. 

“When I was in recovery and beforehand, I didn’t know anybody who was post-recovery, and I had a lot of misconceptions about what it would be like. And they were all more negative than the reality,” Hannah explained. “I wish that I had known somebody, so I could ask questions about what it would be like. I kind of want to be that for other people, but I have to put myself out there. You know? They’re not going to come find me unless I make myself known.”

LETS at Brown collaborated with Active Minds at Brown to organize three events for NEDA Week: “LETS Talk About Eating Disorders,” “Social Life with an Eating Disorder,” “Student + Professional Perspectives on Eating Disorders: An Active Minds Panel Discussion.” Paula Li, Social Chair of Project LETS at Brown, took care to reduce triggering content during the events.

“It can be challenging to moderate these discussions, because recovery looks different for every single person. What works for one person may not work at all for someone else who has a different body and experience,” Paula said. “Since it can be easy to compare one's habits with those of another person, we made sure to emphasize the importance of avoiding exact numbers and overly detailed descriptions of disordered eating.”

Organizers at both Brown and Penn included the narratives of students with well-known eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia, but they also made sure to draw attention to lesser-known diagnoses, like binge eating disorder and orthorexia. In doing so, both chapters hoped to create safer spaces for more individuals to open up, and be met with community support.  

“I think it’s wonderful that there are people at other schools working toward the same goals of ending the stigma around mental health issues and eating disorders,” Hannah said.

Stefanie Kaufman