NAMPA, Idaho — A recent study found that 35% of female and 10% of male college athletes were at risk for anorexia nervosa, and 58% of female and 38% of male college athletes were at risk for bulimia nervosa.
This information comes from the National Eating Disorder Association’s website. The website also adds, “91% of athletic trainers reported dealing with an athlete with an eating disorder,” while 93% of trainers felt their needs to be more awareness and education for dealing with eating disorders among athletes.
Whether an eating disorder, body dysmorphia, anxiety, or depression, in 2019, the National Collegiate Athlete Association changed their legislation, requiring, “…all schools to make mental health services and resources available through the athletics department or the school’s health services or counseling services department. In addition, schools must distribute to student-athletes mental health educational materials and resources, including a guide to the mental health services and resources available at the school and information about how to access them.” The rule went into effect on August 1, 2019, and all schools within the NCAA are expected to comply by January 2020.
In Idaho, Northwest Nazarene University offers athletes access to a Wellness Center and sports psychologist. Athletes also undergo a pre-screen to gauge emotional and mental health and possibly address disordered eating problems, anxiety, or depression, among other things. An athlete can request confidential help, but if the athletic faculty and staff see a student in need, they are not afraid to intervene.
Julie Barrass, Northwest Nazarene’s athletic director of mental health and wellness, says that this year in their pre-screen, “we’ve had five teams so far and we’ve had 26 athletes asked to be contacted … which is fairly high.”