Once a year, the eating disorder treatment community comes together to advance awareness, build consensus, and further the cause of recovery. During this National Eating Disorder Awareness week, Oliver-Pyatt Centers is proud to back the EDC and other organizations’ attempts to make eating disorder recovery more accessible, more inclusive, and more effective.
To celebrate NEDA week 2022, we’re sharing our resources here as well as on social media. There’s so much happening with eating disorder recovery in 2022 – the pandemic has created widespread changes in how treatment is delivered, growing social awareness has raised visibility for at-risk populations, the importance of family involvement is becoming clearer by the day, and the current administration is making sweeping policy changes to help people recover from these crippling disorders. Join us for an exploration of National Eating Disorder Awareness!
Eating Disorders Are Coming to Light
One of the major themes of this Awareness Week is how often eating disorders go underreported or completely unreported. From what researchers have been able to identify, an estimated 28.8 million people in the United States will experience some form of eating disorder during their lifetimes. That number is almost certainly lower than the true figure. Many people who need help don’t report it, or can’t get the help they need.
Since the 2010s and increasingly since the 2020 protests, inclusivity has become a major issue across a wide spectrum of social issues. Eating disorders (and general mental health awareness) are no different. BIPOC are estimated to receive 50% less care for eating disorders, in some ways because of a stereotype that only wealthy white girls and women experience them. NEDA week is striving to raise awareness of eating disorders in minority populations. Here are some of our resources on this topic:
- Debunking Common Myths About Bulimia Nervosa- An explanation of myths about eating disorders, including the ethnic demographics of who suffers them.
- Challenging Body Stereotypes in Eating Disorder Treatment– Discussing the signs and symptoms body image distortions, in a general and cultural context.
- Treating Eating Disorders in the Jewish Community– Discussing eating disorders and treatment with Jewish populations.
Gender and sexuality are also increasingly important topics in the eating disorder community. Although most eating disorders are primarily experienced by women, men and boys also deal with these disorders. It’s generally assumed that many males do not report their eating disorders. Also underrepresented are people in the LBGTQ community. The rate of eating disorders in this population is estimated to be much higher in LGBTQ people than in other demographics, so awareness is a must to help these groups. Some of Oliver-Pyatt Centers’ discussions on gender and sexuality:
- Transgender Eating Disorders: Understanding Bulimia Nervosa and Gender Dysphoria– Taking a look at the relationship between gender dysmorphia and the development of eating disorders.
- LGBTQ Community and Eating Disorders – Here we engage in a general discussion of the challenges GBTQ people face in receiving treatment for eating disorders
- Gender Identity and Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa in the Transgender Community – In-depth analysis of transgender people, body image, and anorexia nervosa.
Eating disorders affect more than the individual seeking treatment, as well. There is also a huge impact on families, communities, schools, and workplaces. According to a study by the Eating Disorders Coalition, the yearly economic impact from eating disorders totals as much as $64.7 billion. They can also devastate the parents, siblings, spouses, and children of the individual in question. Some of our resources concerning the family and community include:
- Setting Boundaries with Parents– A guide for people in treatment to help their parents help them during recovery.
- Family Therapy and Eating Disorder Recovery– Oliver-Pyatt Centers’ Melissa Spann, PhD, CEDS shares the importance of family therapy in the eating disorder recovery process.
- Parents: Supporting Your Child With an Eating Disorder– Our therapists discuss how to help a child when eating disorders happen to them.
The Effects of The COVID-19 Pandemic on Eating Disorders
The coronavirus pandemic has wrought massive changes in every aspect of our society, eating disorders included. The EDC has noted for this NEDA week that diagnoses of various eating disorders have markedly increased since the first shelter-in-place measures were taken. Similarly, the National Eating Disorders Awareness Helpline has experienced a 107% increase in contacts since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paradoxically, the social distancing aspects of the government’s response to COVID may have raised accessibility to treatment. Most treatment centers have made virtual treatment widely available, and teleconferencing can provide many of the same treatment methods as day treatment. Of course, the medical needs of some cases require in-person treatment. Here’s some of our information regarding COVID protocols and eating disorder treatment:
- Client Safety During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic – Monte Nido & Affiliates’ official policy on treatment during the pandemic.
- Maintaining Eating Disorder Recovery During the Omicron Wave of COVID-19–As the pandemic moves into newer and newer phases, recovery must adapt to new treatment methodologies.
- Residential Eating Disorder Treatment Can Still Help During This Crisis–Examining the continuing need for residential treatment even during a social distancing paradigm.
Taking Part in Policy and the Government’s Role in Raising Awareness
NEDA Week 2022 has seen some major involvement from the US government. In an effort to increase the visibility of this pressing health concern and also help accessibility to treatment, the White House has officially backed this year’s NEDA Week.
From their press release: “National Eating Disorders Awareness Week provides an opportunity to draw attention to one of the most serious mental health conditions impacting the lives of Americans and their families today. Eating disorders — including binge-eating, bulimia nervosa, and anorexia nervosa — affect people of all backgrounds and genders. Nearly 1 in 10 Americans are expected to develop an eating disorder in their lifetime. In recent years, there has been a troubling surge in eating disorders among children, older adults, military service members, and transgender individuals. When undiagnosed or untreated, eating disorders can have serious — even fatal — consequences, which is why improving mental health services and support is so important.”
Read it here.
Congress is also making headway in assisting the treatment of eating disorders. A bipartisan act passed by Congress in 2016 is going into full effect. The Anna Westin Legacy Act promotes training for healthcare and educational professionals to identify and treat eating disorders in young people. The act will, in their words, “will authorize the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders to train health care professionals to screen, briefly intervene, and refer treatment for individuals with #eatingdisorders.”
You can take action on this and other important acts of Congress here.