National Eating Disorders Association

It's Mental Health Awareness Month!

Michelle Mizikoski, Communications Intern

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.

We at NEDA believe that eating disorders have a prominent place in this May’s theme: Life with a Mental Illness.  Not only do eating disorders have the highest mortality rate among mental disorders, but it is common for them to be co-occurring with other disorders such as substance abuse, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.  

For these reasons—along with so many more—it is important for those suffering from eating disorders to focus on their mental health this month (and always), and for those who are not to join us and help raise awareness!

Our Director of Helpline Services, Lauren Smolar, has provided a few ways that anyone can make a difference this May for Mental Health Awareness Month:

Eliminate stigma

Stigmas prevent individuals from accessing care. Loved ones are not encouraging those struggling to get the help they need, and instead stigmatizing struggling from mental health issues as shameful. Many people still think mental health issues are simply a result of poor choices and lack of willpower to “snap out of it.” This is not true! Take the time to explain mental health concerns such as eating disorders, anxiety and depression. Just like medical health issues, a combination of factors can bring upon mental health issues – and professional care can help treat them! Take the Stigma Free Pledge today!

Raise awareness

Mental health issues are still misunderstood. Increasing awareness means more people are aware that they are struggling from treatable issues, more loved ones are encouraging earlier access to care, more attention is paid to the need for research, and more people are willing to donate to organizations that help to raise awareness for mental health. Educate your peers; let them know about different types of mental health concerns and the help that is available.

Encourage help

Encourage struggling loved ones to get help. If you or someone you love may be struggling from an eating disorder or a related issue, reach out to the National Eating Disorders Helpline at 800.931.2237 or via live chat. Trained volunteers are available 9am-9pm ET Monday through Thursday and 9am-5pm ET Friday. 

Give back

Have you struggled from an eating disorder or other mental health issue? Share your story or get involved with NEDA to support others who are struggling. You can also check out this great toolkit from Mental Health America with lots of way to get involved!

Image credit: Mental Health America, 2016