Eating disorder support group to launch in Baton Rouge

Updated: Jan. 2, 2020 at 9:28 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A free, clinician-led eating support group will launch in Baton Rouge in the coming months. It will be funded with $14,000 raised in 2019 by Southern Smash, a program under The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness.

“It’s something that Baton Rouge has never had, it’s something that Baton Rouge desperately needs, and we could not be more excited to get this off the ground in early 2020,” said Southern Smash Director McCall Dempsey.

The group will be open to anyone 18 or older.

Dempsey, a Baton Rouge native, founded Southern Smash in November of 2012 after battling an eating disorder for 15 years. The program travels to college campuses around the country to challenge men and women to redefine their worth and beauty by physically smashing scales and letting go of their perfect number.

“So often, my eating disorder was praised because I had ‘willpower’ and I ate healthy all the time, and all of these things are really sneaky indicators of eating disorders and a major reason why people aren’t seeking the help and support that they need,” Dempsey explained. “Our society says health equals the number on the scale, and that’s not true. Society says that health equals eating kale and carrots all day long, and that’s not true. Health is unique to each and every one of us.”

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The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness is a national non-profit that was founded in October of 2000 to raise awareness of eating disorders, eliminate stigma, promote access to care, and support those struggling. The alliance offers educational presentations to schools, healthcare providers, hospitals, treatment centers, and community agencies. The organization also provides support and referrals through both a free helpline and comprehensive referral website, low-cost, life-saving outpatient services to under-insured and uninsured adults, free support groups, and advocacy for eating disorders and mental health legislation.

According to the alliance, eating disorders affect individuals from all walks of life, and approximately 1 in 10 Americans will battle an eating disorder during their lifetime. Less than a third of those struggling will seek help due to the high cost of treatment, lack of provider expertise, and stigma surrounding the illness.

Call 1-866-662-1235 for more information.

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