The following is a letter written to the executive director of Services for Students
Dear Ms. Martine Gauthier,
I am a strong believer in speaking out to support effective and impactful programs on campus, and in my five years at Mcgill I have never witnessed a more amazing program than the Mcgill Eating Disorder Program (EDP). While I have had many wonderful experiences at Mcgill, this program has by far had the most meaningful impact on my life. It would be an understatement to say that it has only changed my life, because it has probably saved it.
While I am not yet in a position to financially offer support to the program as an alumna, the least I can do for now is offer my words. Trust me when I say that it is not enough to do this program justice, but it’s the least that I feel I can do at the moment.
Many students struggle with challenges related to food and body image, whether it reaches the extreme of a full-blown eating disorder or not, and these disorders are especially prevalent in university settings. Eating disorders are often the illnesses of high achievers, perfectionists and straight-a students. For me personally, my eating disorder became a vehicle to cope with high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. This program was phenomenal in that it did not only help to get my eating on track, but that it also addressed the underlying determinants of mental health and well-being that I had been struggling with for over a decade. This program is the best thing to ever happen to me.
The EDP at Mcgill consists of a team of the most caring and competent health professionals I have ever met, and as a public health student and advocate, I have met many. Their level of coordination between different specialties within the EDP team— dietician, nurse, therapist, and psychiatrist, is the model for patient- centered care that we learn about in public health textbooks, but that most programs only aspire to. The program is intensive, the team is interdisciplinary, and they regularly communicate about each individual student’s progress at weekly team meetings to make sure that each student receives the best level of care. In an appointment with any given team member, the staff are always up to date on all other appointments that a student has had, and are quick to refer any problems that come up that are not within their area of specialty to another member of the team. No student need is ever left unaddressed. They keep track of their patients, they care about their patients, and it shows. I felt so incredibly supported, invested in, and believed in throughout the program that I was not only able to make it through this difficult journey, but come out thriving. The program is very intensive, but I am so grateful for that because I have never been so happy and healthy in my entire life and I will forever be indebted to this phenomenal program. I understand that budgets at Mcgill are tight, so I want to emphasize what a gem of a program this is within the university, and how they deserve not only every ounce of funding that they get, but also some kind of award to recognize the supreme level of care that they provide to students.
I think it’s important for the university to know what an amazing service it has put together of which it should be very proud. I hope that the program continues to grow strong, and that it continues to receive the support and recognition it deserves.
Madeleine Pawlowski M.A. (’18 expected) Health Geography B.A. (‘15) Jt. Hons. Int’l Development Studies & Geography