In Groundbreaking Victory for Eating Disorders Prevention & Treatment, Congress Passes Historic Mental Health Reform Legislation

NEW YORK CITY — Dec. 7, 2016 — For Immediate Release —In a major milestone for the eating disorders community, the United States Senate passed comprehensive mental health reform legislation as part of the 21st Century Cures Act with a vote of 94-5 today. The National Eating Disorders Association applauds the Senate for its support and thanks all of the individuals and organizations that made this victory possible. 

This marks the first time a bill of its kind has passed in both the House and the Senate, and comes after more than 15 years of eating disorders advocates fighting for better access to treatment at the federal level. If signed by President Obama, this will be the first significant piece of legislation related to eating disorders to become law. The mental health reform legislation aims to combat suicide, strengthen mental health parity law, invest in early intervention programs and improve the community crisis response system.

The bill also includes provisions outlined in the Anna Westin Act of 2015, legislation specifically designed to support people with eating disorders which passed the House of Representatives in July as part of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act and again last week in a new version. Specifically, the legislation calls for educating and training health professionals in effective strategies to prevent, identify and treat eating disorders. It will also expand access to treatment for eating disorders, by providing a clarification of existing mental health parity law as it relates to eating disorders benefits. This means that more people across the country will be able to get the care that they need and deserve in order to reach recovery.

Commented Claire Mysko, CEO of NEDA, “The passage of this legislation is a monumental moment for mental health in general and the eating disorders field in particular. The guidelines outlined in the bill will help prevent the development of these deadly illnesses and provide proper care for those in need of treatment. We hope to see President Obama sign the bill into law to help the 30 million Americans who will experience an eating disorder at some time in their lives.”

The Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) led the effort to include the eating disorders provisions in the legislation. NEDA thanks the EDC and the thousands of activists who wrote to and called their senators to garner support for this legislation. NEDA advocates played a major role in building support for this initiative, by participating in several calls to action over the last year. In partnership with the EDC, NEDA organized an action campaign which saw advocates sending over 1500 postcards out to members of the US Senate.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), headquartered in New York City, is the leading US non-profit organization supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Each year, NEDA helps millions of people across the country find information and appropriate treatment resources through its toll-free, live helpline, its many outreach programs and website. NEDA advocates for advancements in the field and envisions a world without eating disorders. For more information, visit  

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