Vani Hanamirian ’22 Speaks on Mental Health and Disordered Eating
Each year, the eighth grade health class features a unit on disordered eating, eating disorders, and the importance of mental health. Vani Hanamirian ’22 joined the eighth grade this spring to discuss these topics in depth following a project she completed for the Penn Social Innovators Program titled “Worth My Weight?” The project was an “initiative to ignite the conversation about body image, disordered eating, and diet culture with seventh and eighth graders.” Her goal was to better prepare students to handle these challenging topics whether they experience them in their own lives or in the lives of those around them.
During her time with the class, Vani specifically covered disordered eating, (defined by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as “a range of irregular eating behaviors that may or may not warrant a diagnosis of a specific eating disorder”) the impact of transitional periods, athletics, and other activities, and ways to help those who may be struggling with eating disorders or disordered eating. She used games and collaborative work to make the topics more engaging and get students involved in the conversation. While disordered eating and mental health can be difficult topics to discuss, Vani wanted the students to understand “there are tools to help those struggling, that it can happen to anyone and that they have an ally in the Upper School. I am there for them both as they make the transition from Middle to Upper School and beyond.”