OUR ALLIANCE AT A GLANCE
Who is the Alaska Eating Disorders Alliance? We are a coalition of individuals, families and friends, medical and mental health care providers, educators and others who are dedicated to helping Alaskans address and overcome eating disorders. We do this through education, support, advocacy and promotion of body confidence.
Our planned activities for 2020 include Family and Friends Support Groups, Community and Provider Education, Body Project courses, and Advocacy on eating-disorder issues and funding.
ADDRESSING A CRITICAL HEALTH CHALLENGE IN ALASKA
Eating disorders are wildly misunderstood, complex psychological, biological and social illnesses that pose serious health and physical risks to individuals. Help for those who are struggling with this brain-based disorder in Alaska are extremely minimal, with a limited network of health care providers to identify and treat eating disorders or provide support and information to families and friends. As a result, individuals and members of their support network often struggle with isolation, despair, and serious health risks.
Given the fact that up to 5% of individuals struggle with an eating disorder and that eating disorders have the second highest mortality rate of any mental illness second only to opioid addiction, eating disorders are an unidentified public health crisis in our state. While there are grave risks for individuals, research shows that early intervention provides the best opportunity for recovery and can prevent serious long-term psychological and health risks.
NINE TRUTHS ABOUT EATING DISORDERS
Truth #1: Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.
Truth #2: Families are not to blame, and can be the patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.
Truth #3: An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning.
Truth #4: Eating disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.
Truth #5: Eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and
weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.
Truth #6: Eating disorders carry an increased risk for both suicide and medical complications.
Truth #7: Genes and environment play important roles in the development of eating disorders.
Truth #8: Genes alone do not predict who will develop eating disorders.
Truth #9: Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Early detection and intervention are
PARENTS, FAMILIES AND FRIENDS ARE CRITICAL
We subscribe to the principles of F.E.A.S.T., a global support and education community of and for parents of those with eating disorders
Eating disorders are biologically based mental illnesses and fully treatable with a combination of nutritional, medical, and therapeutic supports.
Parents do not cause eating disorders, and patients do not choose eating disorders.
Parents and caregivers can be a powerful support for a loved one’s recovery from an eating disorder.
Blaming and marginalizing parents in the eating disorder treatment process causes harm and suffering.
Patients should receive evidence-based treatment, when available.
Families should be supported in seeking the most appropriate treatment in the least restrictive environment possible.
Food is medicine: all treatment should include urgent and ongoing nutritional rehabilitation.
When the family is supported, the patient is supported.
Siblings and parents are affected by a family member’s illness; their needs deserve full attention, too.
Parents have a unique capacity to help other parents with support, information, and the wisdom of experience.
F.E.A.S.T. is committed to a coalition-building model of advocacy work that requires mutual respect among caregivers, professionals, and patients.