Stacey Rosenfeld, PhD is a licensed psychologist who specializes in eating disorders, addictions and group therapy. In her writing, Dr. Rosenfeld shares about World Eating Disorders Action Day, a day to help educate and raise awareness about eating disorders.
What Is It?
A wealth of misinformation surrounds the eating disorder field; we hear these myths all the time. Ideas such as “Only young, rich, Caucasian girls get eating disorders,” “You can tell if someone has an eating disorder by looking at him/her,” or “True recovery is impossible” cloud the eating disorder conversation.
The inaugural World Eating Disorders Action Day (World ED Day), happening on June 2nd, 2016, seeks to dispel these myths, raise awareness and understanding around eating disorders, and unite activists around the globe toward much-needed policy change.
World ED Day promotes the “Nine Truths about Eating Disorders”, a collaboration between the Academy for Eating Disorders, Dr. Cynthia Bulik (the truths are based on her 2014 talk of the same name), and other key eating disorder associations. The mission/vision of World ED Day is to “advance understanding of eating disorders as serious, treatable illnesses” and “unite eating disorder activists, professionals, parents/carers and those personally affected to promote worldwide knowledge of eating disorders and the need for comprehensive treatment.”
On June 2nd, activists around the world will come together to promote the “Nine Truths,” highlight the need for evidence-based treatment, increase funding for eating disorders research, and advocate for broad-based policy change that enables greater access to care.
Why Is It Important?
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, but that does not mean they are untreatable. Recovery is possible, but we need to make sure that those who struggle have access to quality treatment. Too often, those who suffer aren’t able to access good care due to lack of sufficient resources, insurance limitations, limited information, or other interfering variables. For many others, treatment is based on an outdated understanding of eating disorder etiology. We now know that eating disorders have genetic, biological, and environmental influences. We know that parents can play a critical role in the treatment and recovery of adolescents with eating disorders. Unfortunately, these truths have not been adopted by all.
World ED Day seeks to reduce barriers to care, particularly in underserved populations, and supports increased diversity in narratives and in the media. Have you ever noticed that most eating disorder articles in mainstream media are accompanied by a stock image of a low weight, Caucasian woman? This needs to change. Eating disorders affect men and women of all shapes and sizes, races, and socioeconomic statuses. These illnesses cut across age, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity in a way that media, research, and policy do not adequately convey.
How Can You Get Involved?
World ED Day is calling for significant social media presence and engagement in the days leading up to, and including, June 2nd. The hope is that those who suffer from eating disorders (and their families), treatment professionals, healthcare organizations, and policy makers will take note of World ED Day’s key messages. The easiest and best way to get involved is to promote World ED Day through your own social media platforms. You can use the hashtags #WeDoAct and #WorldEatingDisordersDay and like/follow these World ED Day accounts:
There will be a 24-hour Tweetchat-a-Thon, accessing folks in all timezones, on June 2nd. Various organizations will present on topics such as Binge Eating Disorder and evidence-based treatment. Follow the hashtags to join the conversation. You can also participate in the Instagram project, which highlights images of diversity and challenges myths surrounding eating disorders (@worldeatingdisordersaction). Finally, please read and share the blog posts on the World ED site. Professionals, patients/carers, and advocates have written critical content begging for dissemination.
The inaugural World Eating Disorders Action Day is in our hands. We have the power, by raising our collective voices, to challenge misinformation, target underserved populations, increase research funding, and remove obstacles to care, toward the goal of treatment and recovery for all.
This article written by Stacey Rosenfeld, PhD.