Today marks the first World Eating Disorders Action Day. Just seeing that this is a worldwide event really means something. NEDA week and other campaigns have grown over the years in the US, but rarely have I heard of anything like this across the world. Today we can begin implement change. Key messages and goals include advocating for early intervention and treatment, showing the diversity of ED sufferers, calling for treatment that is more accessible to all who need it, promoting treatment and the truth that recovery is possible, changing policies regarding EDs, and sharing the “nine truths about eating disorders“. More on the goals here and key messages here. The organization’s mission is to “advance understanding of eating disorders as serious, treatable illnesses” and the vision is to “unite eating disorder activists, professionals, parents/carers and those personally affected to promote worldwide knowledge of eating disorders and the need for comprehensive treatment.” All of this excites me. How amazing is it that we are calling global action in the fight against eating disorders? It’s possible that today could plant seeds of change in policies, attitudes, and knowledge of these illnesses all over the world.
There are 70 million people worldwide who struggle with eating disorders. (For reference that is more than the total populations of: UK-64m, Canada-35m, and Australia-24m).Within that group there are those with early interventions, knowledgeable treatment providers, great support, lower stigmas, and ultimately a good prognosis. This is sadly the minority. Instead, most with EDs deal with little to no public knowledge, a huge stigma/shame surrounding eating disorders and mental illness, no access to ED specific treatment or treatment at all, financial barriers if there are options available, feeling alone, and a lack of outside support, leading to a low chance of recovery.
I am very blessed to be in the former. I’ve seen a therapist since relatively early on. My parents have known a long time and are helpful and supportive (especially my mom <3). I also have some friends who are there for me. I live 45 mins from FV, where I have stayed inpatient and done PHP. It may not have been the greatest experience and quality of treatment but at least I had it. I was able to take off school to go into residential (which my insurance not only covered but paid for in full). I haven’t been denied any claims by insurance. I’ve switched therapists a few times to find the right fit and now have one at home and school. My dietitian is amazing and works specifically with EDs. I say I am lucky because all of this means I have greater chance at recovery. It still isn’t easy, but I also could never be where I am if I hadn’t had this support.
Eating disorder awareness is personal for me. I am forever changed by living with an eating disorder. This is for myself but also for the millions more struggling along with me. I know what it’s like. I know how serious these disorders are. I know how alone you feel. I know the hopelessness and being out of control. Because of this, I want use my voice to give others with eating disorders the ability to speak out, a society full of education without stigma, and treatment they so desperately need.
Assuming you aren’t struggling with an eating disorder, why should you care about raising awareness today at all?
- If it isn’t you, it could be your family member, friend, neighbor, teacher, child, etc. In some populations, such as college, up to 1 in 4 people have EDs.
- You may not know anything about eating disorders. While you may assume that’s just fine, consider how many people with eating disorders you’ll know over your life.
- Others need education about eating disorders too.
- People with eating disorders matter. They deserve acceptance, support, and professional help.
- Eating disorders are extremely low on funding (which leads to less research, treatment, etc). Funding per person, according to NEDA’s 2011 study: Alzheimer’s-$88, Schizophrenia-$81, Autism-$44, EDs-$.93.
- Eating disorders are serious and need intervention, which can only happen if we have a greater availability for quality treatment.
- Better laws and policies regarding EDs are necessary to combat them.
- Together we can change the lives of millions all over the globe.
My hope is that one day we won’t have any barriers with recognizing, treating, and supporting those with eating disorders. We cannot get there without a global, communal effort. Please join me and thousands more in the first World Eating Disorders Action Day!
To get involved:
- Use #WeDoAct and #WorldEatingDisordersDay on social media
- Share the 9 truths of eating disorders video
- Spread awareness of the campaign, information about eating disorders, etc
- More ideas here