Going to college is both an exciting and stressful time for young people. For most, it marks their first true independence, yet they may quickly discover that they lack some of the tools needed for success during this transition. Faced with the task of managing their own time– a role that parents may have previously played– college students may experience high stress. In addition, the college environment may be filled with messages that promote unhealthy eating and exercise habits with an overemphasis on diet, weight, and shape. For those individuals who have previously struggled with eating disordered behaviors, the added stress, responsibilities, and lack of supervision that college-life often brings can carry a high risk for relapse, or even trigger a first-time struggle with a full-blown eating disorder (Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge-Eating, etc.).
The Veritas Collaborative University Program is designed to assist this vulnerable population by providing partial hospitalization treatment for eating disorders while allowing patients the ability to stay in school. In other words, our treatment program is the first of its kind by shifting the treatment schedule to the afternoon and evening so that students can attend classes in the morning, whether locally or online. It is a unique opportunity for both college students in North Carolina and across the country to receive treatment and continue academic work with the help of our comprehensive coordination with their schools. Veritas’ room and board option also allows students to stay overnight in our state-of-the-art facility, giving them the chance to fully focus on the delicate process of recovery.
It can be difficult for those struggling with an eating disorder to accept the severity of this illness and engage in much-needed treatment, especially if it means giving up freedom and academic progress. This reality is unfortunate because it usually means that young people with eating disorders get very sick before they seek needed treatment; so sick, in fact, that the illness progresses to a point where inpatient or residential treatment is required. At this point, students must then give up school, jobs, and access to family and friends in an effort to address this potentially lethal illness.
The University Program at Veritas Collaborative, for male and female college students with eating disorders, is a truly unique blend of daily treatment and daily academic work. For many, this combination supports the motivation to get well since they are able to stay engaged in the things that matter the most to them. Veritas’ focus on lessening the devastating impact that an eating disorder can have on a young life also extends to our culture at large, as we endeavor to halt the usual progression of an eating disorder, one patient at a time.
Written by: Shelby Johnson, M.Ed., University Program Coordinator