Unfortunately, there are still many myths about eating disorders in our society — everything from eating disorders are a choice to eating disorders only affect women. In addition to the plethora of misconceptions, there’s also problems with insurance coverage (i.e., the lack thereof). And many individuals with eating disorders and their loved ones don’t know where to find treatment or what treatment even entails.
Fortunately, though, there are many, many incredible people advocating for eating disorder awareness and services on every level, whether they’re at universities conducting research, at Washington lobbying for education, resources and insurance coverage, or at home writing and sharing their stories online.
And whether you’ve struggled and recovered from an eating disorder or you’ve never had an ED, you can make a difference, too.
If you’ve wanted to contribute your voice and your time to eating disorder awareness, consider becoming an activist. You can help to spread accurate information about eating disorders and their treatment along with hope that recovery is absolutely possible for everyone.
There are many different ways to help. Theresa Fassihi, a clinical psychologist, and Kitty Westin, president of The Emily Program Foundation , offer valuable suggestions in Aimee Liu’s excellent book Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives: Guidance and Reflections on Recovery From Eating Disorders.
- Help out a local support group.
- Write a recovery blog or join a support forum to share your experiences and encourage others.
- Seen or heard a segment on eating disorders? Write letters to your local paper or call in to a radio show.
- Join organizations that advocate for better access to effective treatment and better insurance coverage.
- Become active in eating disorder organizations such as the Academy for Eating Disorders.
- Talk to local treatment centers about activities to spread eating disorder awareness.
- Work with your school or local hospital to create education and awareness programs for eating disorders.
Here are my additional suggestions:
- Offer to tell your story on another blog. For instance, many people have shared their stories of recovery on Weightless. (By the way, if you’d like to share your story, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org). So even if you don’t have your own blog, you can still spread hope and awareness. If you don’t have an eating disorder, offer to write a guest post clarifying ED facts or providing other helpful info.
- Join the Eating Disorders Coalition, whose mission is to “advance the federal recognition of eating disorders as a public health priority.”
- Volunteer for F.E.A.S.T (Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders), which is a great organization! It’s also a member of the Eating Disorders Coalition. According to their website: “F.E.A.S.T. is an international organization of and for parents and caregivers to help loved ones recover from eating disorders by providing information and mutual support, promoting evidence-based treatment, and advocating for research and education to reduce the suffering associated with eating disorders.”
- If you’re able to, donate money to ED organizations.
- Hear misinformation about eating disorders in a conversation? Set the record straight. I’ve heard people minimize and belittle eating disorders. Or voice other ignorant things. If you hear such things, offer to share accurate information. Even just a short explanation can open someone’s eyes to the realities of EDs.
Alicia of Psych Central’s Celebrity Psychings also has three great tips on advocating for mental health.
What other ways can people spread eating disorder awareness and become activists?