Member Spotlight: National Eating Disorders Association

Claire Mysko

Ten million men and 20 million women will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives. These illnesses affect all kinds of people – regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, or background. And despite the fact that these illnesses have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, the majority of those affected will not get the help that they need and many will suffer in silence, often not even realizing that they are struggling with an eating disorder.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is the leading U.S. non-profit organization supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Each year, NEDA helps millions of people across the country find information and appropriate treatment resources through our toll-free, live helpline, our many outreach programs and our website. NEDA advocates for advancements in the field of research and envisions a world without eating disorders.

February 26 - March 4 is National Eating Disorders Awareness (#NEDAwareness) Week, an annual campaign that puts the spotlight on eating disorders. The theme of this year's National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is Let’s Get Real. This campaign provides a platform for untold stories to be heard; promotes healthy relationships with food and our bodies; and offers hope and help to those who need it.

All kinds of people struggle with eating disorders, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, or background, but because of stereotypes and stigma, many people don’t receive the help they deserve. This year, NEDA will be highlighting stories of men, athletes, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people, to expand the conversation about eating disorders. The goal of NEDAwareness Week 2018 is to bust myths, elevate marginalized voices, and reach those in need with appropriate support and resources. Through this effort, we are driving people to take an online screening and we are working to get resources into the hands of those who need them.

This year, 90 buildings in over 40 states were lit in recognition of eating disorders during NEDAwareness Week, and resolutions were introduced in 21 state legislatures to help bring attention to this cause.

We’re also working to fund eating disorders research, so that we can more effectively treat these complex illnesses. And we’re fighting for change at the legislative level with our advocacy efforts, making sure that insurance companies cover eating disorders, just as they would physical illnesses – because we know that mental health issues are real and they deserve to be taken seriously.

Eating disorders are a public health crisis that can no longer be ignored. It’s time to start treating eating disorders as the public health crisis that they are. We need more funding for research, adequate coverage from insurance companies, training for medical professionals, public health awareness campaigns, and more resources to disseminate educational materials and prevention programs to schools. I hope you'll join us in the fight against eating disorders – together we can save lives. Learn more and find resources at nationaleatingdisorders.org.

Claire Mysko is the CEO of NEDA.

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Funding research gives all of us a better chance of living a healthier life.
Pam Hirata, heart disease survivor