Letter to the Editor: Eating disorder story left out key information

The Minnesota Daily’s recent story reinforces a stereotype of who experiences eating disorders.

Letter to the Editor

We hope the recent Minnesota Daily story about eating disorders raises awareness of these life-threatening mental health conditions.

But we’d like to share information left out of the reporting.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health illness. Appropriate, supportive and effective treatment for eating disorders requires specialized, intensive and coordinated psychological, medical, nutrition and psychiatric services.

Just as we at Boynton Health cannot ethically provide specialty medical care for severe conditions such as cancer in Primary Care, we cannot ethically provide care for eating disorders. Fortunately, we have comprehensive eating disorder programs in the Twin Cities to which we refer.

The story’s focus, unfortunately, reinforces a stereotype of who experiences eating disorders. People of all racial groups, gender and sexual identities, weight and body types can live with an eating disorder. You do not have to be underweight to need and deserve care.

People of color are especially poorly represented in the research and even in the recovery community, and transgender and gender non-binary people are at significant risk for eating disorders.

We say this with deep concern for students: If you are worried you have an eating disorder, we will see you and care for your well-being.

We invite you to come to Boynton Health. We will talk with you and explore your relationship with food. If you are diagnosed with an eating disorder, our team will connect you to a community program that specializes in treatment. We’ll work with you until you are seen and have a plan of care in place. If there is a wait, we’ll provide therapy and medical support until you are seen.

We will also help you explore options for paying for treatment, including a grant for which many students qualify.

Your struggle is not invisible to us.

Student mental health needs are real and increasing. But mental health conditions that are life-threatening, including eating disorders, active substance abuse and psychotic first episodes, require specialized care. That is why we have deep relationships with community providers and why we refer students to care. You deserve the best possible care for your condition.

Lauren Azbill, Jennifer Beldon, Kitty Bell, Kelsey Carignan, Jennifer Krzmarzick, Alex Montes and Mary Utz are members of the Eating Disorder Team at Boynton Health

This editor has been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.