Friday, January 21, 2011
"I have observed one of the most deadly forms of cultural prejudice in this country through my work with the Boulder Youth Body Alliance. This prejudice discriminates against bodies that fall outside of the lines we currently call acceptable. Ninety-eight percent of us cannot naturally fit within these guidelines! Every year, at least 50,000 individuals will die as a direct result of an eating disorder, and millions more will suffer. I have personally been a witness to the pressure put on women –and increasingly, men– to look a certain way, according to the culture we are exposed to.
When I went to Washington, D.C. for the first time with the Boulder Youth Body Alliance in 2009, we were excited to lobby, an endeavor that few high school students get to experience. We met many great people, who had themselves suffered with eating disorders; these advocates had so much passion to get the FREED Act passed. It was a very successful and fulfilling trip, one that I will never forget.
The second time I went in 2010, however, was much more impactful. Upon arriving to the training, we were informed that one of our fellow advocates had died two days before to her eating disorder. Nicole had been planning on coming to that lobby day, her registration forms sent in and her name tag ready. She had died in her sleep, a not uncommon occurrence for eating disorder cases. This news had brought me to tears. I have known people who have suffered from eating disorders, my mother once one of them, but I had never personally known someone to die from it. It was a jarring wake up call.
With Nicole in my heart and mind, I fought passionately to get the Representative and Senators to co-sponsor the FREED Act, many of whom did with great compassion and enthusiasm. I will never forget Nicole’s story, and I will carry on the fight to end the cultural prejudice associated with certain body types."
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Ron Manderscheid, PhD
Executive Director, NACBHD
Last weekend, a tragedy of national proportions occurred in Tucson Arizona. Twenty-two-year-old Jared Lee Loughner repeatedly fired a pistol into a group at a Saturday political rally organized by Representative Gabrielle Giffords of the 8th Arizona District. Six people were killed outright, including a 9 year old girl; 12 more were wounded, six seriously, including Gabby Giffords, who was shot through the head. We need to understand and act on this very sad event so that a similar event does not occur in another setting with other participants.
Based on CNN media reports and elsewhere, a picture emerges of Jared Loughner as a bright and talented teen who developed a serious mental illness over a protracted period of time dating from his later high school years. Allegedly, he had numerous run-ins with high school, community college, and legal officials, as well as with classmates. Over time, he also withdrew from family and friends, sometimes precipitously, and he spent progressively larger amounts of time in delusional thinking. A critical question can be raised as to why he never received appropriate mental health care.
Clearly, it will not be productive to point fingers at public officials, at fellow students, at friends, or at his family. We cannot know their personal motivations, or why they did not intervene. Rather, let’s look at what could have happened, but didn’t.
We must look at two things. First, how can we give people the knowledge and the skills to take action when they encounter a family member, friend, or acquaintance who is experiencing a mental illness? Second, how can we assure that appropriate and effective mental health services are actually available in the community?
Developing Knowledge and Skills
Before someone will feel secure and confident to intervene, including friends, classmates, teachers, family members or other community members, they must have an appropriate understanding of the signs and symptoms of mental disorders; they must know how to respond; and they must know what resources are available to assist them. Most people have received no training in any of these areas; in fact, most people are unaware of current mental health treatment resources available in their own communities. We must do something about this.
As part of health education in high school, every student should be informed about the signs and symptoms of mental illness and the types of helping responses that are appropriate. Clearly, appropriate responses will vary depending on whether a person is suicidal, depressed, violent, incoherent, etc. As a major part of this training, when in any doubt, students should be taught to reach out for help to other authority figures—teachers, school counselors, school principals, other adults, etc. Such training will do much to combat the culture of silence and inaction that frequently surrounds such encounters.
As part of undergraduate college education, and when entering a new job, including teaching or the police force, adults should be exposed to the principles and concepts of Mental Health First Aid. In addition, they should be informed about the mental health resources available in their own communities and how to find these resources in the future through use of the Web and other tools available locally.
Assuring Appropriate and Effective Community Mental Health Services
In his remarks at the memorial service held in Tucson yesterday evening, President Obama made reference to some key questions that this tragedy should engender in our national dialogue. Among them was his question: “Are our mental health services adequate?” We must help the President to answer this question, and we must do it in a helpful, operational way. It is a stark fact that current mental health services are inadequate in most US communities.
When we address this question, we must not only examine actual primary service availability, but also whether appropriate inter-organizational links exist. For example, is there a good working relationship between county mental health services and local or community colleges?
A related point also needs to be made. This sad event documents the crystal clear need for implementing the Affordable Care Act. Under this Act, Jared Loughner could be covered under his family’s health insurance policy to pay for mental health care. Or, if the family does not have insurance, he could be covered under Medicaid or the Medicaid expansion. Further, disease prevention and health promotion provisions of the Act could have led to early detection of his illness and early treatment before the disease became severe.
Jared Loughner literally fell through the cracks. Many people encountered him; virtually no one reached out or sought the mental health care that he desperately needed. In that sense, he was invisible; no one really saw him. Appropriate knowledge and intervention strategies could have changed all of this. We need people who are trained to intervene appropriately, and who have the courage to reject the culture of silence and inaction.
When courageous people do intervene, they must feel confident in what they’re doing and that appropriate and effective mental health services are actually available in their own communities. Such services must be consumer friendly and easy to access.
The Affordable Care Act can help us address both of these needs.
Finally, this is an urgent call to action for every one of us. Each of us must become engaged with our local communities, our schools and our police, and our neighbors. Our message must be very clear:
* ♣ Training in Mental Health First Aid is every bit as important and lifesaving to our fellow citizens as the CPR and first aid training that many of us already know.
* ♣ Such training is urgently needed to identify and respond to the ordinary mental health challenges that our friends, neighbors, and children face every day and is essential to the continued healthy growth of people and communities.
* ♣ All citizens ought to have knowledge about the mental health resources available in their communities.
* ♣ And, community leaders must ensure that effective care is easy to access.
Because preventing and treating mental health problems is so important to our country’s public health, we ourselves must model and lead the effort to combat the stigma of silence and inaction.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
08 Jan 2011
Scientists in Connecticut have carried out one of the first psychological studies into eating disorders in Native American (NA) populations. The research, published in The International Journal of Eating Disorders, provides new insights into the extent to which Native American populations experience eating disorders, revealing that women are more likely to report behavioral symptoms then men, while challenging views that NA men and ethnically white men will experience different psychological symptoms.
The team, led by Professor Ruth Striegel-Moore from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, studied data taken from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health for over 10,000 men and women with a average age of 22. Of these, 236 women and 253 men were either Native American or Inuit.
Research into eating disorders in Native Americans has lagged behind research of other mental disorders, leaving many unanswered basic questions about prevalence in major demographic groups of populations indigenous to the US, including Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Alaskan Natives.
"Little is known about eating disorder symptoms in Native American populations for several reasons," said Striegel-Moore. "Even though the U.S. government recognizes over 500 NA tribes one of the biggest research challenges is to find an adequate sample size. Our aim was to examine prevalence of behavioral symptoms of eating disorders in a public access data base to get an initial estimate of the extent to which young NA adults experience such problems."
The team confirmed the theory that NA women were more likely than NA men to report behavioral symptoms of eating disorders, revealing that regardless of race, ethnicity or nationality, research consistently shows that women are more vulnerable to developing disordered eating behaviors or full syndrome eating disorders than men.
The team also found a parallel between NA women and ethnically white women when considering the prevalence of binge eating, purging and "ever having been diagnosed with an eating disorder."
"This commonality between NA and white women refutes the myth that eating disorders are problems that only affect white girls and women" said Striegel-Moore.
Finally the team found that there was no significant difference between NA men and ethnically white men, again demonstrating how the affects of eating disorders are not restricted by racial groups.
While this research was one of the first into the psychological effect of eating disorders in NA populations it can now lead to further, longer studies. The team's findings were based on 7 days which is shorter than similar studies conducted over 28 days. Further research will also be conducted into the attitudinal symptoms of eating disorders, compared to the behavioral symptoms being discussed in this paper.
"This research provides us with a first glimpse into the extent to which young adult NA populations experience behavioral symptoms of eating disorders," concluded Striegel-Moore. "In the eating disorder field this type of epidemiological study has lagged behind other research, but now we have a foundation to study the distribution of eating disorders and identify psychological risk factors in Native American populations."
Article URL: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/213051.php
Main News Category: Eating Disorders
Also Appears In: Psychology / Psychiatry,
Friday, January 14, 2011
Executive Director, EDC
(Washington, DC – January 14, 2011) The Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) announced today that it has chosen Lisa Lilenfeld, Ph.D., a Fellow at the Academy for Eating Disorders, as President of the EDC, effective January 1, 2011 for a two year term. Lilenfeld had served on the EDC Board of Directors for two years.
On her election to Chair of the Board Lilenfeld commented, “After dedicating my career to the treatment and research of eating disorders for the past 20 years, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to make a much greater impact than I ever thought possible as an individual clinician, researcher or educator. I am fortunate to have come on board with the EDC after many years of their hard work creating the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders (FREED) Act, which is now steadily gaining support in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.”
Also elected as Officers of the 2011-2012 Board were Jillian Lampert, Ph.D., M.P.H. R.D. of The Emily Program as Vice Chair & Secretary and Gail R. Schoenbach of The Gail R. Schoenbach/F.R.E.E.D. Foundation as Treasurer.
The EDC Board additionally welcomes two new Board Members, Seham El-Diwany, M.D. who also serves on the Board of the Eating Disorders Resources Center and is a Pediatrician in California as well as Johanna Kandel, Executive Director and Founder of the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, author of Life Beyond Your Eating Disorder and a former EDC Junior Board for the past two years. Commenting on their appointments, Lilenfeld said, “ Dr. Seham El-Diwany and Ms. Johanna Kandel both offer tremendous dedication and enthusiasm, each with unique experience to further our mission. Dr. El-Diwany, a pediatrician, has educated practitioners on the west coast on the front-lines about eating disorders. Ms. Kandel is a successful author and grass roots leader in educating the public about eating disorders, having conducted successful state-level lobbying efforts to improve education, prevention and treatment of those with eating disorders.”
Re-elected to the Board were Sam Menaged, J.D., of the Renfrew Center, Kitty Westin, M.A. from The Emily Program Foundation, and Ted Weltzin, M.D. from Rogers Memorial Hospital.
Anticipating a successful upcoming year as Chair of the EDC, Lilenfeld has hope for the FREED Act, “With sustained effort, I believe that we will be successful in passing this legislation, which will have enormous impact in improving access to appropriate care, training professionals in our field, and funding research that is so badly needed. It has been too far too long that patients and their families needlessly suffer due to treatment denial, inadequate treatment or inability to find treatment, and researchers are allocated a tiny fraction of the funding designated for the study of diseases that are no more prevalent and no more devastating than eating disorders. I am honored to serve in a role where I can work side-by-side with tireless board members who have long been committed to making FREED a reality.
About the EDC
The Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action is working in Washington, D.C., to increase awareness, educate policymakers, and promote understanding about the disabling and life-threatening effects of eating disorders. Our mission is to advance the federal recognition of eating disorders as a public health priority. www.eatingdisorderscoalition.org
Thursday, January 13, 2011
I feel broken-hearted by the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, her staff and the many other people who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. We send our love to the families and loved ones of those who died. There are so many shades of this story that make it distressing, yet the one I want to address is the current popular trend to vilify our politicians.
All of you who care about eating disorders - let's come together this next lobby day in the hundreds (tentative date is April 12th - stay tuned for exact date and details) - not only to reach our primary goal of passing legislation that will make an enormous difference in the lives of people affected by eating disorders - but also to let our Members of Congress know that we appreciate their hard work and efforts. We support their dedication to public service. It is with them that we will achieve the goals of making treatment accessible to all those suffering from eating disorders, better understand eating disorders etiology, prevention and treatment, and prevent eating disorders through awareness and training of health professionals. The politicians and advocates are on the same team. Let's respond to this painful event - not by being scared into silence but by coming to Washington DC in droves.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
~~Jeanine Cogan, Ph.D., Policy Director, EDC
Indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan appears on the January cover of Elle magazine, but she's outraged by the image. Her skin appears far more pale than it is in real life. Her dark brown hair is shown to be practically red.
Elle claims to celebrate women of color by featuring them on magazine covers, but this is the second time in just six months that Elle has blatantly made women of color more white. (The last controversy surrounded Precious actress Gabourey Sidibe.)
For better or worse, publications like Elle play a huge role in determining global standards of beauty -- especially for young girls and teenagers who read it. It sends a cruel and dangerous message to women of color everywhere when Elle manipulates the skin color of one of India's most famous actresses just so she can appear on a magazine cover.
Here's our opportunity: Elle is a business that cares more about its bottom line and public image than anything else. To change their behavior -- and send a message that reverberates through the whole fashion industry -- we need a public outcry.
India already has a billion-dollar skin-whitening industry. Many women burn their skin through the use of unsafe whitening products. And there's a pervasive prejudice against girls who are "too dark" and therefore can't get hired or married.
A global publication like Elle has no business reinforcing that racist and damaging stereotype. Elle suffered from some bad press when the magazine cover came out, but there still needs to be a massive public campaign to force them to take real action. This is that campaign.
Tell Elle that women don't have to be white to be beautiful – and to apologize for its offensive doctoring of its cover models:
Thanks for taking action,
- Judith and the Change.org team
Monday, January 3, 2011
As an EDC advocate, you lent of your time, heart, and energy and made our Letter-Writing campaigns a success, our work with the Office of the First Lady a success, and our 2010 Lobby Days were our biggest and most effective yet. By being an advocate and/or Member Organization of the EDC, you helped ensure that we continued on our way to passing the first ever comprehensive eating disorders bill in the history of Congress: the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act (FREED Act). You can be proud of your role in ensuring that more people recover and fewer will die from lack of treatment; that greater research funding and opportunities will exist; and that more education and prevention programs are available.
For those of you who came to Washington DC for lobby days, we thank you for the time and dollars it took to make that happen. Your commitment and voices make a difference. So many of you were brave enough to share your personal stories of both challenge and hope with Members of Congress and we gained great support for the FREED Act. With your continued involvement in 2011, we will remain committed to passing federal policy that saves lives and offers hope to millions of people.
Enjoy and be healthy as you transition into the New Year. We look forward to seeing you and hearing your voices again, as well as meeting and hearing the voices of new advocates, in 2011.
With love and light, and our sincerest thanks, ~The EDC...