The multifaceted nature of eating disorders — with nearly 50 percent of people with eating disorders also meeting the criteria for depression according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders — is the reason that the nonprofit Mental Fitness evolved from being an organization that focused on solely eating disorder education to include other pertinent aspects such as body image, self esteem and nutrition. The expansion of the nonprofit’s focus has allowed Mental Fitness to “really broaden our horizon” and address the complex disorder, said outreach director Jacob Burman.
“There are a lot of different issues that lead to eating disorders,” he explained.
Whether it is looking in the mirror and feeling dissatisfied or being bullied as a young child, eating disorders manifest for different reasons and Mental Fitness hopes to build resilience in all youth no matter their background. Highlighting the subsequent physical damage that eating disorders can cause, the nonprofit also takes measures to educate close ones on the signs of the disorder and importance on seeking helping.
“A lot of our school seminars are to educate teachers and parents on the different types of eating disorders and the resources they can use,” said Burman.
The nonprofit offers a host of programs that target health in female athletes, encourage positive self esteem through 5k walks, and promote activities that make the participants feel good such as journaling, song writing, painting and yoga. Mental Fitness is also launching a What is Beautiful campaign centered on a video project that features nearly 40 celebrities, entertainers, and business owners answering three questions: What is beauty? What is inner beauty? What is happiness?
With up to 24 million people of all ages and genders in the United States suffering from an eating disorder according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, cultivating positive social change is important when trying to eliminate the prevalence of eating disorders said Burman. In a society where there is always a new diet promoted to help individuals achieve the ideal beauty standard, creating positive conversation amongst peers is instrumental in helping individuals of all ages build positive self esteem.
“Trying to be positive about yourself and giving positive words and praise to other people can go a long way. In society we often talk down to our kids for example, but we don’t celebrate the things we accomplished enough and I believe that can go a long way,” said Burman.
Those interested in learning more about Mental Fitness programs or bringing them into the school system can email Robyn Farrell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view the trailer for the What is Beautiful campaign go to http://youtube/7bY8r1dI7zo.