Cardiff- by Rachel Between February 27 and March 2nd Cardiff hosted its first ever week-long EDAW which was hosted by new student-led service SRSH Cardiff and supported by Cardiff Mental Health Society.
Mental Health issues affect one in four people, although the exact number of students who suffer eating disorders is unknown. Some estimates suggest that figure could be as high as one in five students. On Monday, SRSH Cardiff set up a large stall in the Students’ Union, not only to raise awareness of their group which provides informal, friendly self-help sessions to sufferers but also to promote healthy body image and to educate people about Eating Disorders. There was a life-sized cut- out body and the group asked passers-by to stop and write down their favourite part of their body; the idea was to get people thinking about why they liked themselves. By the end of the first day there were hundreds of SRSH post-its covered with peoples’ favourite body parts ranging from the generic ‘my eyes’ to the more unusual ‘my brain’.
In order to educate people about eating disorders the group designed a special fact from fiction game and asked people whether statements such as ‘eating disorders only affect teenage girls’ were fact or fiction. The game took off and we had lots of engagement with students who deliberated over their answers before finally turning their question over to reveal the answer. SRSH Cardiff also produced a recovery board of images to represent what recovery from an eating disorder looked like and we received many compliments on how thoughtful these were. The sabbatical officers came down to get involved and we had a brainstorm over what defines somebody as having an eating disorder and what is just unusual eating patterns; the conclusion was that it really isn’t that clear cut all!
On Tuesday the stall went on again but Tuesday evening SRSH Cardiff presented a well-attended screening of the Channel 5 documentary : ‘Kate Thorton; My Secret Anorexic Past’ where the TV presenter reveals her adolescent struggle with anorexia. There was a great turnout and many attendees said they found it most thought-provoking.
On Wednesday, the lovely SRSH Cardiff girls ran round the Students’ Union putting positive body affirmations all over the place for people to read. Statements such as ‘hey gorgeous; you look great today’ were posted all over the place to make people stop and feel good about themselves. Last time I saw, Jemma Mallorie still had her post-it note up on her desk!
Statements such as ‘hey gorgeous; you look great today’ were posted all over the place to make people stop and feel good about themselves. Last time I saw, Jemma Mallorie still had her post-it note up on her desk!
Thursday saw the arrival of Sarah Fullagar from Body Gossip who came to speak to students about her experiences with self-harm and eating disorders (more on this next week!) and on Friday a couple of brave volunteers wore their top inside out to remind people that it is what’s inside that counts; not what you look like!
We (SRSH St Andrews) had a great EDAW, here is a quick summary of what we got up to and how it went!
Monday- We had an evening of introductory talks, where we had two speakers;a lecturer from the university whose talk was about the myths and misunderstandings of eating disorders, and a local psychotherapist who had previously worked with our student services at the university, whose talk was entitled 'eating disorders from a psychotherapist's perspective'. The evening went really well and was our best attended event, with around 60 people in attendance. It was really good to see so many people interested in learning more about eating disorders, and made sure we could spread talk about what we do to a wide audience.
Tuesday- We joined up with psychology society for Journal Club- where people get together to discuss an article; we discussed an article about the evolutionary perspective of eating disorders (Kardum, I., Gračanin, A., & Hudek-Knežević, J. (2008). Evolutionary explanations of eating disorders. Psihologijske Teme, 17(2), 247-263.). the article provoked interesting discussion.
Wednesday- We held a bake sale fundraiser, which was really successful, raising around £80! The day also meant that we could talk to lots of people about what we do, as many people want to know who they're buying cake from. We received some positive feedback which is always nice!
Thursday- We held two events, the first was a mindfulness taster session, held by one of our lecturers, and was focused on how mindfulness can be used to help treat eating disorders. Later that evening we ran a carer's group, ran according to the same framework as our normal sessions, but for people who have friends/family with eating disorders, and need other people in a similar situation to talk to. We think that these groups have the potential to be really helpful to a lot of people.
Friday- We screened a documentary about the effect of advertising on body image, particularly that of women, the film is entitled "Killing Us Softly - Advertising's Image of Women", by Jean Kilbourne and is available on YouTube in two parts (highly recommended!)
The week following EDAW, Thea, Pia and I were on our student radio show, speaking about SRSH, EDAW, and eating disorders in general.
SRSH is registered with Companies House, 7493445
Registered Charity: 1142783
Registered Charity: 1142783