National Eating Disorders Association

NEDA Applauds President Obama’s Mental Health Speech

Taryn O’Brien

NEDA applauds President Obama for his speech at the National Conference on Mental Health on Monday, June 3rd, which emphasized the importance of increasing awareness and understanding about mental health issues. Specifically, the speech tackled three points central to the conversation surrounding mental health in the United States: reducing stigma, access to care, and the real possibility of recovery.
President Obama started by saying that those who suffer from mental health illnesses are not alone and pointed out that, like any kind of physical ailment, mental health illnesses are nothing to hide and that they deserve similar attention and treatment. (Click here to view or read President Obama’s speech in its entirety.)

“Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are still suffering in silence rather than seeking help, and we need to see it that men and women who would never hesitate to go see a doctor if they had a broken arm or came down with the flu, that they have that same attitude when it comes to their mental health.”

But, as we know, access to mental health treatment, particularly treatment for eating disorders, is not as simple as going to the hospital to have a broken arm set. His speech also spoke to that issue, saying, “New health insurance plans are required to cover things like depression screenings for adults and behavioral assessments for children.  And beginning next year, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny anybody coverage because of a pre-existing mental health condition.”

While these measures are important steps, NEDA also calls for:

  • States to enact laws that require eating disorders be covered by private insurance carriers in the same way that physical illnesses are covered
  • Expanded coverage for Medicare and Medicaid subscribers as it pertains to the treatment of eating disorders
  • Prohibiting private insurance companies from denying treatment for eating disorders

Though the speech didn’t mention eating disorders by name, much of what was said applies directly to NEDA’s mission. We, too, are trying to encourage those who are suffering to speak up and ask for help. We are also working to increase access to health care, and to spread the message of hope—that recovery is possible.

For all of our readers, we would like to reiterate his closing remarks. “If you know somebody who is struggling, help them reach out…and more than anything, let people who are suffering in silence know that recovery is possible. They’re not alone. There's hope. There's possibility.”

The White House also launched a new website within the Department of Health and Human Services, with resources and Stories of Hope and Recovery from individuals with mental illnesses. The stories include this one by Demi Lovato, who talks about her experience with bipolar disorder and eating disorders.


If you are passionate about fighting on behalf of eating disorders sufferers, consider joining NEDA and co-hosts the Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) and the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (iaedp) for a Federal Eating Disorders Lobby Day on October 10, 2013 in Washington, DC.

You can also take action by thanking President Obama now!