Boyle raises eating disorder awareness

Contributed photo: Poster displays events planned for the Awareness Week.Contributed photo: Poster displays events planned for the Awareness Week.

Starting Monday, April 22, Mercyhurst will be having its first ever Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Senior Rhona Boyle decided to bring this to Mercyhurst to raise awareness of eating disorders. It is a serious mental illness that affects many people around the world, particularly adolescent and college-aged women.

“People tend to think of eating disorders as ‘lifestyle choice’ when in fact they are complex and potentially fatal mental illnesses,” said Boyle. “And there is an insignificant amount of awareness raised for this class of disorders.”

Not only is the week helping to raise awareness, but it is also focused on promoting a positive body image, healthy eating and a balanced lifestyle.

“A healthy, balanced lifestyle guarantees happiness and self-love, which we all need more of,” Boyle said.

Boyle gained several volunteers through friends and peers to help out with the movement. In addition, some of her personal “Mercyhurst mentors” have volunteered to help her send her message to the Mercyhurst community.

Cohen Health Center Counselor Lee Shadeck supports Boyle’s idea and shared his thoughts on the theme of the events.

“I think that what Rhona is doing by bringing this subject to light here at Mercyhurst and attempting to incorporate positive body image, healthy eating, healthy habits and balance in life makes perfect sense, and is what we attempt to assist students with here at the Counseling Center,” Shadeck said.

Monday through Friday will be daily events that students are encouraged to attend. They are meant to incorporate all aspects of the person, body, mind and spirit.

Monday kicked off the week with the “Mirrorless Monday” challenge. Students are meant to examine their “mirror monologue” with themselves. The week will also include speaker
Rosalind Creasy on “Transforming your Home and Health through Edible Landscaping,” a discussion on body image, the showing of the film “Someday Melissa” and a special yoga class to help promote an appreciation for one’s body.

Shadeck is attending the speaker and documentary to answer questions that anyone might have.

Vice President for Student Life Gerard Tobin, Ph.D., thinks this is an important topic to bring to Mercyhurst.

“Bringing awareness to this important issue may save a life and we will never know. If each of us could believe we are loved as we are, the powerful influence of media regarding body image would be lessened,” Tobin said.

This awareness week is important to Boyle because she struggled with an eating disorder that made her realize how damaging the effects can be. Boyle wants to help others who are currently struggling with an eating disorder and to help prevent students from falling into this disorder by educating them through the activities she is providing.

She hopes that this week will help students learn from her past, personal experiences and recognize the helpful resources available on campus.

“As a prominent student leader I feel a sense of responsibility to tell my peers, ‘Hey I battled an eating disorder and I recovered,’” Boyle said.

To learn more about these events, contact Rhona Boyle at