The Center’s Educational Mission is Rising to New Heights
May 12, 2019
On Friday, May 3rd The Center held our annual spring conference which has been newly branded as the RISE Conference (The Regional Conference on Integrating Science into Eating Disorder Care). We were very excited to present a program of speakers and panels highlighting barriers to accessing care for under-served communities and beginning a conversation about ways to we can better reach those in need.
Dr. Carolyn Becker, a pre-eminent researcher in eating disorder prevention, shared with us her most recent line of research which has found that living in food insecurity nearly triples the risk of having binge eating disorder. We have long known that binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder and that metabolic stresses are linked to the development of eating disorder symptoms. Dr. Becker presented clear and compelling information about the link between insecure access to food and the development of eating disorder symptoms and shared some thoughts on how we can begin to better serve individuals in those communities.
Dr. Crista Gambrell led the conference in an interactive discussion of th unique challenges and appearance standards that impact women of color and how cultural beliefs can impede access to care. While the specific appearance standards may be different, the role they play in the development and maintenance of eating pathology is very similar. Dr. Gambrell guided participants in exploring how best we can maintain a frame of cultural humility while we seek to provide care to people from diverse communities.
Mr. Craig Kramer, The global mental health ambassador for Johnson and Johnson, shared a personal story of how an eating disorder has impacted his family and presented on systems-level thinking shifts that the eating disorder community needs to make to be more effective advocates for policy changes that will benefit people and families facing these disorders.
These outstanding speakers as well as the panelists who discussed coordination of care and challenges facing under-served communities started a community conversation about access to care and raising awareness about eating disorders in communities that do not fit “eating disorder stereotypes”. The Center is very proud to be working to carry this conversation forward by engaging in work with public health agencies and multi-organization coalitions that serve high poverty communities to raise awareness about eating disorders and eating disorder treatment. As we encounter barriers to care in these communities we will work closely with public health officials to problem solve how best to make sure that everyone who can benefit from our services will have the opportunity to access them. We are also beginning to work with Equitas Health Institute and Kaleidoscope Youth Center to better reach the LGBTQ+ community which faces enormous rates of disordered eating to ensure that people are aware that we are a welcoming and affirming treatment provider who respect their dignity while providing world-class care.
Taken together, this work is carrying The Center for Balanced Living’s education mission to exciting new heights. In the year ahead we will be out in the community actively collaborating with agencies and organizations already reaching underserved communities to raise awareness and decrease the stigma associated with seeking help for an eating disorder. Together we can set the standard for how to reduce barriers to accessing care and establishing community partnerships to make sure everyone has the opportunity to access the life-changing, and life-saving work that we do every day.
Jason McCray, Ph.D.
Chief Science, Outreach and Education Officer
Mid-Ohio Food Bank
Thank you to Mid-Ohio Food Bank for being the perfect venue for our RISE Conference and a discussion of food insecurity and eating disorder treatment.