The Foundation works tirelessly to ensure that those impacted by an eating disorder get the treatment they need and to which they are entitled. This work emerged from the untimely death of Anna Westin who lost her life to an eating disorder in February 2000. Since that time, the Westin Family and The Emily Program Foundation have worked to ensure that other families are not subjected to the kind of tragedy the Westin Family has had to endure.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rates among mental illnesses and are expensive to treat. The Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act removed some of the barriers to treatment faced by those with eating disorders, though some barriers still exist. An article by Sarah Hewitt called “A Time to Heal” addresses the importance of eliminating barriers to coverage for patients with eating disorders under the Affordable Care Act. Among the points that she makes is that public opinion may affect the implementation of federal policy about insurance coverage for eating disorders. She cautions that even if mental disorders (such as eating disorders) are misunderstood or maligned by the public, this should not cast doubt on professional consensus that treatment can work and is needed. Rather, public misconceptions should increase concerns about the well-being of sufferers who risk ridicule when they seek treatment. With that knowledge, there is reason for us all to work even harder toward a world without stigma and misconceptions about eating disorders and disordered eating. We all need to look for opportunities to shape informed conversations about disordered eating through advocacy, social outreach, and collaboration with community partners.
The most frequently asked questions about accessing treatment often involve barriers to insurance coverage for eating disorders. While we do not have all the answers, the Westin Family has provided several suggestions that may help when attempting to get access to care.