Saturday, 10 February 2018 05:55

EDSNA pushing to destigmatize eating disorders across Alberta

Written by  Demi Knight
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With the month of February holding a significance across the globe for eating disorder awareness, the Eating Disorder Network of Alberta (EDSNA) are hoping to continue the push of de-stigmatizing the illness that affects thousands across the province during the first week of February this year.

Since 2015, the week-long events that take place in Edmonton and Calgary from Feb. 1-7 will be returning once again this year, with extended hopes to keep the movement going further north and south in the province in the years to come.
“Eating Disorder awareness week is actually recognized across the country from Feb. 1st to the 7th,” says Sue Huff, Executive Director of EDSNA.
“It is actually recognized throughout February all around the world, but we realized no one seemed to actually be doing anything to champion it across Alberta during these times.”
Eating disorders which see the highest mortality rates of any other mental illnesses, still don’t seem to receive quite the same attention that others may says Huff.
Nor does it seem to gain the same amount of research dollars or investments that other psychiatric illnesses do she added — enter the need for this week within Alberta.
Held not only to educate people on the symptoms and warning signs of such illnesses but also to offer information on support groups, where to find them and what to do if you or a loved one may be experiencing this illness, the week comes at a pivotal time in society when mental health is becoming more of an open conversation across the globe.
With workshops, presentations, fundraisers and entertainment, the awareness week will cover all the bases of making sure enough attention and support is offered while shining a light on the often-overlooked mental health issue affecting so many.
“We saw this huge need in the Mental health sector. There’s such a big stigma around mental illness and eating disorders are at the bottom of the pole of mental illnesses,” says Huff.
“People experience extra-ordinary amounts of stigma and shame and so they are reluctant to talk about it. There’s not a large amount of treatment options or a lot of qualified help available either.”
With plans in the next few years to bring the movement forward to both Grand Prairie and the south of Alberta, Huff says that EDSNA are in the process of creating capacity building workshops and presentations to create a better awareness of eating disorders province-wide in the foreseeable future.
Huff also added that the organization is excited and hopeful to connect with more communities and help them create their own movements within this region of mental health support.
“I would love to connect with anybody in any community, but really this kind of movement is all about the local initiative and having a personal connection. However, the Eating Disorder Network of Alberta would love to help anybody bring it to their backyard.”
With support sites located only in Edmonton and Calgary, Huff also stressed the importance of making eating disorder support available to smaller, rural communities everywhere by offering a platform of online support services is pivotal.
From online portals that allow those afflicted to talk to both professionals and others going through similar situations, as well as online support systems for friends, family and loved ones of those struggling too, Huff adds that she wants to make it known where everyone within Alberta can access these services.
“Our website is our hub and it has everything on there for everyone to access regarding eating disorders, support and resources portals and information on treatment options across the province.”
Currently held in Edmonton and Calgary, Huff hopes this movement can be taken province-wide within the future to help spread initiatives, information and options for support for people suffering and from this serious illness and all their loved ones that surround them during this tough time.
For more information on Eating Disorder Awareness week and the EDSNA or to access the online support group, visit their website at

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