The Internet - a New Frontier in Eating Disorder Care

By: 
June Alexander

Technology is increasingly building bridges in eating disorder prevention, treatment and recovery.

Recovery Record and Proud2Bme will be the subject of a concurrent session ‘Building Bridges Not Walls’ at this year’s NEDA Conference. Both are outstanding examples of how technology is helping people everywhere to connect and improve their lives with online support.

Recovery Record reinvents traditional paper-based cognitive behavioral therapy self-monitoring with a secure and discrete iPhone and Android app for people living with an eating disorder. The app facilitates ‘recovery on the go’ with meal monitoring, rewards, and smart algorithms that suggest coping tactics in the moments they are needed. People with eating disorders can also co-manage treatment by linking their Recovery Record app with their clinician’s Recovery Record Clinician app. This enables clinicians to set treatment programs that are sent to their patient's app, make data-driven clinical decisions and provide more connected care.

Proud2BMe is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

Presenters Jenna Tregarthen, co-founder of Recovery Record, and Claire Mysko, Proud2Bme manager, describe why their work is important:

Jenna TregarthenRecovery Record - Jenna Tregarthen

  1. What role does your Recovery Record App provide for people with eating disorders or eating disorder symptoms?
    Recovery Record bridges gaps in traditional treatment. It delivers in-the-moment support and intervention in the absence of a treatment team. Eating disorder recovery is about the daily battles (and victories!) and Recovery Record provides ‘micro-interventions’ no matter where the user is, what the situation is, or what time of day it is. Micro-interventions aim to break the sequence of events that lead to eating disorder symptoms. The app is also very smart and recommends appropriate coping tactics in the moments they are needed. Recovery Record is fun and it is social!
  2. What are the greatest areas of interest?
    The greatest area of interest is in continued development of the app’s social features. Our number one policy is ‘do not harm’ and we are working hard at developing more safe social features, so stay tuned.
  3. What are the benefits of online interaction and communication with people who are feeling anxious or have eating disorders, or symptoms of ED?
    Feelings of anxiety and the experience of eating disorder symptoms are often associated with withdrawing from support and resources. For many, the idea of talking with someone face-to-face about difficult experiences is confronting. Online interaction enables people to discretely source support at no cost, while remaining anonymous. People who connect their Recovery Record app with their therapist’s app, can receive in-the-moment feedback.
  4. What do you like most about this platform and why?
    I start every day by reading user reviews on the app store or email testimonials and am blown away by Recovery Record’s life-transforming impact. The ability of technology to connect with and meet to the needs of people from all walks of life and stages of recovery is incredible.
  5. What would you like Recovery Record to offer in the future?
    I see a future where Recovery Record is increasingly intelligent and responsive to user needs and even anticipates their needs and provides preventive tools. The Internet must play a bigger role in mental healthcare. We know that only one in 10 people receive treatment for their eating disorder, technology has the potential to reach the nine in 10 who don’t. 
  6. What will be your main message at the NEDA Conference?
    I will highlight how audience members can benefit from new tools available for prevention, treatment and recovery.

Claire MyskoProud2Bme - Claire Mysko

  1. What role does your online site provide for young people?
    Proud2Bme provides a safe, supportive space that is all about promoting confidence. A young woman seeking online support for her own eating disorder launched the original Proud2Bme site in the Netherlands. She was horrified to discover a whole world of pro-ana and thinspiration sites and decided to provide a positive alternative that focuses on recovery and resilience and gives young people a space to use their voices to affect personal and social change.
  2. What are the greatest areas of interest?
    We hear from young people who are struggling with issues that include eating disorders and cultural pressures to be "perfect." We give young people a platform to share their personal stories. That act of sharing is healing for the one who is telling her/his story, and it helps others feel less alone with their own battles.
  3. What are the benefits of online interaction and communication with young people who are feeling anxious or have eating disorders, or symptoms of ED?
    Proud2Bme aims to reach teens and young adults, so we HAVE to be online and in social media--that's where young people are! Online interaction is a way of life for young people. In terms of promoting healthy body image and recovery, online spaces like Proud2Bme can be a space where you feel less alone, where you can connect with others on everything from healthy self-expression to body image activism.
  4. What do you like most about this site and why?
    There are many things I love about Proud2Bme. It's a diverse community of young people who are inspiring in their honesty. We are building a powerful movement of change-makers.
  5. What would you like this site to offer in the future?
    Plans are underway to upgrade our site’s design and improve the functionality of our forums so we can reach more young people. We will also create a mobile-friendly version of the site and we're exploring partnerships with pioneers in the app world, including Recovery Record. The Internet will absolutely play a bigger role in mental health care.
  6. What will be your main message at the NEDA Conference?
    I'll provide an overview of what Proud2Bme offers and how we are using the Internet and social media to provide support and build a movement of empowered young people. In collaboration with Recovery Record, the workshop will give attendees a look at the many technology can benefit our community and allow us to greatly expand our outreach.
Read More