June 2 marks World Eating Disorders Action Day, when members of the eating disorder community – affected individuals, families, friends, professionals, researchers and policymakers – unite virtually to increase access to accurate information, debunk myths and advocate for resources and policy change. This year, the focus is “Eating Disorders Can’t Afford to Wait” and we are joining in on the conversation.
Twenty-five years ago, eating disorders were not considered a true illness. People didn’t talk about them, insurance policies didn’t cover them, and little research was available to appropriately treat them. Those who suffered from eating disorders fought an invisible enemy in an uphill battle – and recovery was rare. Today, thanks to increased awareness, science-based research, and the brave souls who fought for proper treatment, we understand more about these illnesses, the effects it has on the human body, and how to treat the disease effectively – making recovery a realistic and attainable outcome.
A crucial piece of knowledge we have today is understanding that eating disorders can’t afford to wait, meaning that early intervention paired with an appropriate level of care is the most effective action we can take! We also know that eating disorders know no boundaries and affect all genders, cultures, sexual orientations, ages, socioeconomic classes, abilities, races, and ethnic backgrounds. They also have one of the highest mortality rates of any psychological illness, carrying an increased risk for both suicide and medical complications. In fact, eating disorders have the second-highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders, surpassed only by opioid addiction.
As scary as those stats may seem, let them serve as motivation. Motivation to eliminate negative stigmas. Motivation to fund more research. Motivation to enhance access to care. Motivation to think about eating disorders differently.
“Eating disorders are a serious mental illness, which requires us to think about them as we do other serious illnesses, like cancer or heart disease,” says Alyssa Kalata, Ph.D, center trainer for Veritas Collaborative. “When we treat an eating disorder aggressively and close to its point of onset – just as we do with other diseases – we’re able to experience positive outcomes more frequently. By adopting this mindset throughout communities of care, we could greatly impact mortality rates.”
Dr. Kalata, who has worked with eating disorders patients for 10 years, trains others on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, one of Veritas Collaborative’s core treatment modalities. She believes early intervention is the key to healing.
“Our brains are a lot like a river,” shares Kalata. “When water rushes through a river, it cuts a deep path over time. But, when we toss a large rock into the water, a new path is formed. Similarly, our brains learn behavioral patterns that become more pronounced over time. By seeking treatment early, we toss a proverbial rock into the river before it cuts too deep a path. Early intervention allows us to help our patients shift patterns of behavior and thinking before they become more entrenched, allowing our patients to engage in life in a meaningful, values-consistent way.”
To do this well, we MUST break down barriers and increase access to care.
“Veritas Collaborative is on a mission to improve access to eating disorders care for all persons affected by the disease,” said Stacie McEntyre, LCSW, CEDS, founder and CEO of Veritas Collaborative. “We recognize that those who suffer from eating disorders are under-served, and we’re doing our part to close that gap by breaking through health care barriers, opening hospitals, expanding clinics, and working collaboratively with communities of specialists to enhance access to care – because we know that collaborative efforts produce positive outcomes.”
The idea of doing things differently to break through the status quo is at the heart of what Veritas Collaborative is all about because our interest is healing the whole person as opposed to just one aspect of the disease. We actively choose to take a 360-degree approach and incorporate treatment processes rooted in proven research to establish successful, long-term recovery. As an example, Veritas provides each patient with a team of specialists comprised of medical, nutritional, and psychological specialists. This team works together, pulling in additional resources as needed, to usher patients and their supportive unit (i.e., parents, siblings, spouses, friends) through their journey to recovery.
As we celebrate June 2 as World Eating Disorders Action Day, let us remember that we all have a role to play in creating better access to care. Here are a few things you can do today:
- #ShowUsYourPurple. Create a custom social media post sharing what this day of action means to you.
- Follow the conversation. Share, like, re-post, or re-tweet blogs, photos and posts to your friends!
- Host or Attend a local event. Local World Eating Disorders Action Day events are held across the world. Check this website to find one near you. Can’t find one? Host one yourself! Have a seminar, discussion session, radio show, or light up something purple.
- Donate to an Eating Disorder Organization. Consider donating to a local Eating Disorder organization or research center to support their work.
- Discuss Eating Disorders. Talk about eating disorders with friends, family, at work or school. Open dialogue can change the conversation.
We’re excited to share that we’re taking our own action by expanding our service offerings in Charlotte, N.C., starting this month! We’ll share more information on that exciting news in a couple of days, so stay tuned and get out there today and take some action of your own!