Healthy Eating and Living Support (HEALS)
Penn State Healthy Eating and Living Support (HEALS) is a multidisciplinary program that supports healthy eating and decision-making among students with mild to moderate eating and body image concerns. Our team is comprised of medical providers, dietitians, and mental health professionals who specialize in providing education, resources, and support to students affected by mild to moderate concerns with eating and body image.
- Outpatient medical evaluation and support through University Health Services
- Individual nutrition counseling and support through the Nutrition Clinic, part of Health Promotion and Wellness
- Short-term individual or long-term group therapy through Counseling and Psychological Services
- Case management support to help students with referrals and insurance coordination
Higher Level of Care
Eating disorders are complex and may lead to significant medical complications. At times, a student may need more support and structure than can be provided by the HEALS (Healthy Eating and Living Support) team in order to build a solid foundation for recovery. When needs extend past outpatient care, the HEALS team may recommend engaging in Higher Level of Care (HLOC). This may mean needing to take time away from school in some situations.
State College is a smaller town with a community-based hospital. This means there is very limited access for medical stabilization in State College. Formal eating disorder treatment centers that provide specialized, intensive treatment are not available in the State College area.
The HEALS team can provide referrals to facilities that offer HLOC. The treatment facility provides their clinical recommendation for an appropriate level of care by assessing medical status, eating disorder behaviors, exercise behaviors, weight changes, psychological state, and motivation. Learn more about the varying levels of care by visiting the National Alliance for Eating Disorders.
Additionally, family and care team meetings may be used to fully communicate the student’s situation and engage the student’s support system in facilitating HLOC. Our case management team can help to identify treatment options and coordinate admission.
The health, well-being, and safety of our students is our top priority. Transitions, even positive life events like starting college, are stressful and can be a trigger for individuals struggling with eating concerns. For students with a pre-existing eating disorder, it is imperative for them to be fully in recovery before attempting the transition to college. This means that they should be able to plan and carry out meals without outside support. The process of recovering from an eating disorder requires significant time and energy above one’s course load. It is important to consider the student’s history, accessibility of resources in our Penn State and local community, and future success of the student when making the decision to choose a college.
Getting started with HEALS
If you need help with disordered eating or other body image issues, please contact University Health Services and request an appointment with a case manger. You can also get started by contacting Counseling and Psychological Services for a phone screening.