For the Record – Eating Disorders Awareness Week: We need to talk about it

Jenny Cameron – February 7, 2019

Jessie’s legacy encourages people to wear purple to show their love and support throughout Eating Disorders and Awareness week. (@loveourbodies / Twitter)

“Love our bodies, love ourselves” is written across their website and social media platforms.

Jessie’s Legacy Eating Disorders Prevention and Awareness Program aims to reach out to people who may be struggling with food and their bodies. This week is particularly important to the program because, from February 1st – 7th of every year, it is eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Eating disorders therapist and manager of the program, Joanna Zelichowska, says it’s important people understand eating disorders is a real psychiatric illness.

” We know eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness…It’s a big deal and often people who don’t understand that complexity just say ‘eat this’ or ‘just do this.'” – Joanna Zelichowska, Manger at Jessie’s Legacy Eating Disorders Prevention and Awareness Program.

This year the program is focusing on the role social media is having on body image, particularly with children. She says young people are constantly exposed to unrealistic body expectations online and what they’re seeing does not match up to reality.

However, there does seem to be a positive side of social media that is helping people feel more comfortable talking about their illness.

“With increasing conversation and increasing visibility, and, I guess, that’s the postive side of social media is that people have a voice, people can share their experiences and say, ‘hey this is something I struggled with too’ and that seems to really open up the conversation and help other people join in and feel like they can share as well.” – Joanna Zelichowska, Manger at Jessie’s Legacy Eating Disorders Prevention and Awareness Program.

Jessie’s legacy program is named after a young North Shore woman who took her own life after struggling with eating disorders. Zelichowska says the family started the program so no other family has to go through what they had too.

Listen to the full interview below.