This week, in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, the Grand Valley State University Women’s Center and Love Your Body Week Committee is joining forces with the university’s Counseling and Career Development Center to bring educational programs and free student screening to both of GVSU’s campuses.

Since the topic of body image has been a prevalent one for many GVSU students throughout their K-12 education, we get why it might feel cliché. Between after-school specials about binge dieting and that one episode of Full House where D.J. Tanner passes out on a treadmill from malnourishment during the family gym outing, the issue of body image was brought before us when we were still too young to completely understand it.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a significant eating disorder at some point in their life. 86 percent of Americans with eating disorders report the onset of their disorder by age 20. The National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reporting that only 1 in 10 people suffering with an eating disorder will actually receive treatment.

Lay those statistics out side-by-side, and you’ve got an entire chunk of the population struggling silently with something that may be classified as a mental illness, but has very real physical consequences. NEDA also reports that out of any other mental illness, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate, and with 20-25 percent of “normal dieters” progressing into partial or full-syndrome eating disorders, the effects this has on the population are deep and deadly.

It’s hard to admit our insecurities, especially when we know our insecurities are only skin deep. But remaining blind to the problem is bigger than the problem itself; so if you think someone might be struggling – whether it’s you or someone you love – now is the perfect time to seek assistance. Take advantage of the campus wide free screening, take advantage of the educational programs offered by the Women’s Center and it’s affiliates; because although these disorders are invisible struggles, they are struggles worth fighting for.