Eating disorders (ED) have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and yet they are surrounded by misconceptions, misinformation, shame and stigma. ED-ucate would help to change that.
This one-day symposium in Edmonton, held in February 2016 as part of the Eating Disorder Awareness Week, would invite teachers, coaches, social workers, nurses, GPs, dieticians, sports trainers, post-secondary students and parents to get ED-ucated about eating disorders.
Professionals with extensive backgrounds in eating disorders would hold a series of sessions, aimed at improving understanding of this complex illness.
Last year, the Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta (EDSNA) created a partnership with Canadian Mental Health, Edmonton Region to host Edmonton\'s first-ever Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW). It was a huge hit and generated an enormous amount of media attention. (http://www.eatingdisordersupportnetworkofalberta.com/eating-disorder-awareness-week-2015.html)
Plans are already underway for EDAW 2016, and this symposium would be perfectly situated within the week to achieve maximum media coverage and public awareness.
Who Will it Benefit?
Everyone who attends will be more informed, more aware and more compassionate about eating disorders. This will, undoubtedly, have a ripple effect to those suffering from eating disorders or disordered eating.
Sadly, most GPs, nurses, teachers and dieticians have very little training in ED, so when youth present these issues, they are often at a loss as to how to help or where to turn. By hosting this symposium, we will be able to answer those questions and also create a mechanism for professionals from various backgrounds to connect with one another. This will facilitate future cross referrals and the sharing of best practices.
Early intervention is key with eating disorders, so the more people who are informed about the warning signs and the treatment options, the more likely we are to have positive outcomes, shorter hospital stays and healthier families.
Finally, the stress on families who are holding this illness in shame and secrecy is enormous. We need open dialogue and connection to ensure that everyone emerges healthy and strong from this devastating illness.