by Liza Miller, a college student studying psychology with an emphasis on Gender and Women's Studies.
"Wait so all of these people are in The Red Sea?"
"No, no. It's called the REDC. The Residential Eating Disorders Consortium."
This was the first interaction I had at Lobby Day this year. Considering I was the one asking this question, I was not off to a great start.
To give you some background: I am a twenty-year-old college student studying psychology. So when my dad [Dirk Miller, Executive Chairman and Founder of The Emily Program] invited me to join him in petitioning representatives of members of Congress about eating disorder-related legislation, I felt both thrilled and wildly underprepared.
Articles tagged with: Advocacy
Kitty Westin with Senator Amy Klobuchar just before the 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law.
by Kitty Westin, eating disorders activist
I was thrown onto an uncharted path nearly 17 years ago. I was in excruciating pain, I was lost and confused and had no idea how to navigate the path, where the journey was headed or what I was supposed to do along the way. When Anna died from an eating disorder on February 17, 2000 I felt like my world had blown apart. I did not know how to survive the tragedy but I did know one thing; I had to somehow transform the horror of Anna’s death into something positive. I reached out to Senator Paul Wellstone who was a champion of mental health parity and asked for his help. I told him Anna’s story and he told me to take the story to Washington D.C. He said that I should bring as many other voices with me because that is what would make change happen. My journey has been hard, frustrating, messy, and often filled with obstacles, but it was always a journey of love.
For the first time in the history of Congress, eating disorders specific language will be included in federal law. What an amazing victory for people with eating disorders and their families! The world of legislation is a complicated road, with numerous twists and turns, but in this case the twists and turns resulted in a beautifully tied bow for people with eating disorders, their families and those that take care of them.
by Kitty Westin, eating disorder activist
(Reprinted with permission from The Emily Program Foundation.)
It felt like I was in a dream this week when I was standing in line for security clearance to get into the White House for a meeting with top level White House staff, key government agencies, and eating disorders leaders from across the United States. I wondered if I would wake up and realize that I was having a really good dream. I didn’t wake up, it was real! It was a dream come true!
When can a few short phone calls change the course of history for people with eating disorders and their families?
Please join the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) in a Virtual Action Day today to encourage the Senate to bring S2680, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 to the Senate floor for a passing vote.
by Kitty Westin, eating disorder activist
The last time I wrote to you was on July 7; I was hardly able to contain my excitement! It was the day after the United States House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (422 to 2) in favor of mental health reform, which included provisions from the Anna Westin Act. At the time I told you I believed that after a 16-year marathon we were nearing the finish line. After 16 years of hard work and the commitment of thousands of grassroots advocates we were close to passing the first eating disorders specific legislation in the history of the US Congress. As I watched House Member after House Member vote “yes” I allowed myself to hope and to believe that this long journey was coming to an end.
If you’ve ever sat in the Gallery of the House of Representatives, you get a simultaneous sense of grandeur and individual impact. Grandeur in the enormity, the incredible art and architecture, the urgent sense of purpose that pervades the space. Individual impact in the stories of people whose lives will be saved, changed, and improved with the legislation being discussed and debated. Last Wednesday, July 6th, I had the incredible opportunity to watch, from a seat in that Gallery, the House of Representatives debate and then vote on the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act championed by Rep. Tim Murphy from Pennsylvania. The bill passed by a stunning 422-2 vote. There were tears in the eyes and on the cheeks of my colleagues gathered there and elsewhere to see this moment occur. Our collective spirits soared as the yes votes poured in. The gavel marking the finalizing of the vote and passage of the bill echoed in our hearts and minds.
At The Emily Program, we passionately strive to increase eating disorder awareness, provide personalized care, and support lifetime recovery. If you've ever wondered how you can support our mission, there are plenty of ways to get involved! Here are a few ideas:
Capitol Hill. The Senate. The House. All of these institutions seem imposing.
How can one person have any impact on the complex processes of our government? The amazing thing is, it is possible. As Americans, each and every one of us can impact our legislative process by using our voices. Speaking our truths, telling our stories, and sharing our own experiences can make a difference that can impact millions.
I did just this on Monday this week at EDC Lobby Day, talking to our policy makers about the Anna Westin Act. I went to Lobby Day because I know that passing a bill called the Anna Westin Act (AWA) will save lives. How does a bill about eating disorders save lives? The AWA opens up grant funding for training for health and school professionals and the public. With this training, more people will recognize the early signs of eating disorders, which can save lives. The public will understand more about eating disorders, which can reduce stigma and encourage those struggling to get help sooner.
by Kitty Westin
May your voice never die
Before I go into detail about the Anna Westin Act I thought it would be interesting for readers to learn how the "dream" of eating disorder legislation became a reality.
by Kitty Westin
A reluctant advocate
I never wanted to be an advocate. I did not train or study or seek out "master" advocates to mentor me. I did not go to school or attend workshops or listen to webinars about becoming an advocate. I had no intention of starting a movement, being drafted into an army of eating disorder activists or becoming the thorn in the side of insurance companies. However, on February 17, 2000, the day my beloved daughter Anna Westin died of an eating disorder, I was launched into a life that I could not have imagined. The day Anna died of anorexia was the day that my life changed forever and the day I found my purpose.
Every February we have the opportunity to partner with other professionals, colleges, universities, businesses, community groups, and associations to spread the word about eating disorders.
Eating disorder awareness month is full of events that will be held across the country. Check out the following list of events to see what's going on near you.
The Emily Program-Cleveland staff at the 2014 NEDA Walk
In this country, it's estimated that 30 million men and women will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder during their lifetime.
Join The Emily Program in the fight against eating disorders and saving lives. On Saturday, Oct. 10, members of TEP will walk in the Cleveland NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) Walk to raise funds and awareness about the dangers of eating disorders, and the importance of early intervention and treatment.
Earlier this month, a few of us from The Emily Program – Cleveland headed down to our nation's capital to participate in this year's Eating Disorder Coalition's National Fall Lobby Days. It sure was an exciting day for all of us in the eating disorder world.
We would like to thank all of you who joined us in representing Ohio and making our voices heard! It's the most important advocacy event to influence policy on eating disorders in Congress.
Re-posted from Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders (CCED) blog archives. CCED and The Emily Program partnered in 2014.
By Jan. 1, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — better known as Obamacare — will be well on its way toward full implementation. Because of the many myths and fears due to this change, CCED would like to summarize the facts of the law and the benefits to those in eating disorder treatment.
Simply put, Obamacare provides an avenue to insurance for all Americans. It in no way represents a government takeover of health care.
Historically, the insurance market has excluded many people, including those with a history of prior illness or those who fall into various groups rated by age, gender or previous utilization of the health-care system. But under the ACA, everyone will be able to get private insurance — with no barriers.
For those with eating disorders, this is particularly important. As far too many have learned, an eating disorder is a pre-existing condition, which in the past insurers have used to deny care. This will no longer be the case.
Additionally, under the ACA, children are allowed to remain on their parents' insurance until age 26 (formerly age 18). Because eating disorders often strike at early to mid-adolescence, this is also very important to our field.
Another major advantage of the ACA is lower insurance rates. Multiple studies from several independent foundations predict lower health-care costs for consumers and lower insurance payments, particularly for those with significant disorders, such as eating disorders, as they will no longer be placed in a "high-risk pool."
Lastly, the ACA will expand Medicaid, so that those who fall below the poverty line can receive health-care insurance. (This is still being debated by the Ohio House and Senate, although it has been proposed and actively supported by Governor John Kasich. Please contact your representative on this important issue.)
Beginning this month, health-care exchanges are now set up so that anyone who wants to purchase health care and is not covered by their employer is able to do so. There are 12 insurance companies providing care through these exchanges in Ohio. Consumers are now able to compare benefits, costs and make decisions about the plan they require.
Thanks to the ACA, no one will be denied health care based on health history, age or gender. If you have been denied health insurance in the past, this will change as of January 2014.
If you have any questions or concerns, please visit www.obamacarefacts.com, contact your health-care provider or your treatment team.