Posts Tagged ‘Advocacy’

The Continued Fight for Equal Insurance Coverage

Capital Hill

The passage of a federal mental health parity law nearly a decade ago was an important step in ensuring that people struggling with mental health issues received the insurance coverage they needed. More progress came in the form of the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016, which included the first instance of eating disorders language in legislation, clarifying that it is not acceptable to exclude eating disorder treatment—specifically residential programs—from insurance coverage.

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History Has Been Made!

Kitty Westin and Amy K.

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.

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How One College Student Took Over Washington (Not Really)

Liza Lobby Day

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.

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It’s a Big Week in the World of Eating Disorders!

Eating disorder legislation

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.

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Eating Disorders Coalition Roundtable at the White House

EDC at the White House

 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!

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Landmark Mental Health Bill Approved in the House


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.

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