You might not know it, but today marks the start of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, from February 21 through February 27. This campaign was first created in 1987 by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) to focus attention on the seriousness of eating disorders and to improve public understanding of these illnesses. It's still going strong after 29 years.
Last year, NEDA Awareness Week reached tens of millions of people through traditional and social media with the mission of encouraging early detection and intervention for people with binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia, as well as providing support for their families and education for teachers, psychotherapists, medical doctors, and other health care professionals.
This year's theme is "3 Minutes Can Save a Life: Get Screened. Get Help. Get Healthy," and it'll offer an anonymous, free, online screening from which participants can learn whether it’s time to seek professional help.
As the director of The New York Center for Eating Disorders, I think one of the most important contributions of this week consists of reducing the shame, stigma, and isolation so prevalent among people with eating disorders. Through the community activities, groups, and events scheduled, thousands of people come together to feel supported and shed light on healing and recovery.
Of course, if you don't have an eating disorder, you might be wondering why this should matter to you. Here's why you should still celebrate Eating Disorders Awareness Week if ...