An increasing number of celebrities are now opening up about their struggle with various mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and eating disorders. By doing so, they hope to remove the associated stigma and reassure their fans that they are not alone in their battle. Camila Mendes, who plays Veronica Lodge on the popular TV show “Riverdale,” recently talked about her personal experiences with eating disorders. Describing them as “serious mental illnesses,” Mendes said that she not only saw her older sister suffering from eating disorders but periodically experienced the symptoms herself.
Mendes made the disclosure in an Instagram post in October 2017, while announcing her decision to get involved with Project HEAL, a nonprofit which raises money to help people access treatment for eating disorders. “I’m joining Project HEAL to help break the stigma associated with eating disorders,” she wrote, and appealed to her fans for support. Mendes also announced that one “Riverdale” fan would get a chance to spend a day on the sets to help support the cause.
Mendes’ Instagram post was greeted with overwhelming love and support from her fans, some of whom have battled eating disorders themselves. Fans were grateful to her for making them feel that they were not alone. Others highlighted the importance of organizations like Project HEAL in helping people get access to necessary treatment, especially since awareness is low, “recovery is an absolute struggle” and limited services are available.
Eating disorders associated with stigma and stereotypes
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 20 million women and 10 million men in the U.S. experience an eating disorder at some point in their lives. The onset of many such disorders, including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorders, usually takes place during adolescence, but an increasing number of children and young adults are also being diagnosed with these conditions. It is possible for the symptoms of eating disorders to change over time, or to recover from one disorder and relapse with symptoms of another. Anorexia nervosa is considered the most fatal mental disorder.
As is the case with other mental health conditions, eating disorders are associated with misconceptions, stigma and stereotypes. Media portrayals of eating disorders create social contexts which contribute to body dissatisfaction and disturbed eating and exercising patterns. Social media is inundated with forums which glorify emaciated bodies and promote starvation. Seemingly harmless activities, such as “before and after” photos, or discussing weight put on during vacations, can also propagate dangerous myths or shame about eating disorders.
Other celebrities, who are considered teen role models and have come forward to speak candidly about their struggles with eating disorders include Demi Lovato, Kesha, Mel C and Troian Bellisario. This trend is not restricted to celebrity women – teen heartthrobs like Zayn Malik have also spoken about conquering their eating disorders and other mental health problems.
Recovering from eating disorders
It may take several years to recover from an eating disorder, and such recovery is typically characterized by relapse. Getting back to normal eating habits and developing coping skills can take a significant amount of time, necessitating support from family, friends and medical professionals. Affected individuals will need to address immediate medical complications, co-occurring mental health issues like depression, anxiety or trauma, and work on a plan to avoid relapse.
Eating disorders in teens can be treated with timely intervention. Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego understands the plight of a teen with such disorders and provides evidence-based teen eating disorder treatment. If your teen is showing symptoms of eating disorders, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our experts to know more about the best teen eating disorder treatment center located near you.