National Eating Disorders Association
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Activism

The study and treatment of eating disorders is woefully lacking, especially for men. The majority of Americans think this is a woman’s disease, but statistics show that 10 million men in the United States will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. 

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Ever since I was a child filling out my father's appointment cards in his home office, I too wanted to become a psychologist. Connecting and helping others always seemed extraordinarily enticing. As a child, I felt that I wanted to save the universe and specifically, I wanted to change just one person's world every day for the rest of my life.

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The first ever World Eating Disorder Action Day was held June 2nd, 2016 as a part of a global activist movement to raise awareness of eating disorders. This campaign was developed by a diverse group of activists representing affected individuals, parents/caregivers and professionals in the eating disorders field. Leading the efforts was a steering committee of 15 individuals from across the world, including NEDA’s own Yasemin Merwede!

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The Senate is getting ready to vote on the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016, which could have a large impact on the eating disorders community. The bill aims to expand access to mental health services, including eating disorders treatment.

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June 2nd, 2016 will mark the very first World Eating Disorders Action Day. While different countries and organizations have long had awareness weeks (such as NEDAwareness week and the Canadian Eating Disorders Awareness Week), this is the first time eating disorders are getting global attention. In fact, the whole day has been developed by grassroots advocacy efforts of over 150 organizations in over 40 countries.

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For more than 65 years, May has been observed as National Mental Health Awareness Month by organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America (MHA). Of course mental health is important all year-round, but emphasizing these issues in May gives us the chance to come together to show our support and efforts for those who suffer from mental disorders and illnesses.

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Before I started as the national walk manager at NEDA, I coordinated the Westchester, PA Walk two years in a row. Working with coordinators across the country to spread awareness and foster supportive communities is my dream job. More than 15,000 people in 65 cities participate in NEDA Walks, and I am grateful to be a part of it all!

So, I want to tell you a little bit more about what NEDA Walks are and why I think they are so special. 

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The New York State Legislature voted last week to approve a restoration of funding to the Comprehensive Care Centers for Eating Disorders (CCCEDs) back to $1.2 million in the 2016-2017 state budget. This is big news because that funding has been dramatically slashed in recent years, with some centers receiving only $40,000 per center, which essentially eliminated their ability to provide care.

NEDA took a group of amazing advocates to Albany to lobby for the restoration of these funds last month - this victory proves that our voices are having an impact!

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As a former model, commercial actress and host, I enjoyed my share of success within the fashion and entertainment industries. I also suffered from binge eating disorder, bulimia and anorexia nervosa for the length of my career—although the behaviors didn’t begin in the industry, they were exacerbated by things I heard, saw and experienced: things like sexual harassment, trauma, bullying, exposure to wild parties, drinking, drugs and the daily pressure to lose weight.

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The 2016 National Eating Disorders Awareness Week was an enormous success. The campaign reached nearly 200 million people with information and resources through social media alone, and close to 40,000 people took the online screening. Another bright spot was the number of generous landmark buildings that were iluminated in green and blue in observance of NEDAwareness Week.

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