Eating disorder treatment is super important. Eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses around . For this reason, everyone deserves access to treatment and equal treatment from their healthcare providers. However, this hasn’t always been the case. This is why inclusive eating disorder treatment is important.
What is Inclusive Eating Disorder Treatment?
Recently, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) pushed for inclusive eating disorder treatment . Inclusive treatment means that treatment is available for everybody.
ANAD published a guide for how eating disorder treatment centers to bridge the gaps between treatment the BIPOC, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and people in larger bodies .
Making changes to make treatment accessible and effective for every patient could be the difference between life and death for people in marginalized communities.
What Would Inclusive Eating Disorder Treatment Look Like?
Each community and person is going to have unique needs. Just because someone identifies with the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t mean they have the same needs or barriers as every other person in that community.
However, when looking to make eating disorder treatment more inclusive across the board, it can be helpful to look at the barriers that exist for different people. Inclusive treatment could include the following:
- Hiring treatment professionals who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled persons, and people in larger bodies. This is important from a treatment perspective because clients from these communities are more likely to feel represented by the staff
- Non-discrimination policies that are displayed on company websites and is also communicated to staff and clients
- Accessible restrooms that are clearly labeled. This includes all gender restrooms
- Facilities, including furniture, should be accessible for people with disabilities or people in larger bodies
- Treatment centers should be educated and trained in how to address discriminatory behavior in staff or clients.
- Treatment centers that claim to support the LGBTQ+ community must be prepared to discuss how they support that community
- Scholarship opportunities for people from marginalized communities considering that these communities face unique financial burdens
- Staff should use a client’s and coworker’s pronouns and correct name
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are so many other things that a treatment center could implement in order to be more inclusive. This is just a few things so that you get the idea of what ANAD is pushing for.
Eating disorder treatment centers can receive ANAD’s Inclusive Care Seal of Approval. This is given to treatment centers who have demonstrated a commitment to and ability to provide inclusive care to staff and clients .
What Are The Benefits of Inclusive Eating Disorder Treatment?
The benefit of inclusive eating disorder treatment is that every person has a chance to recover. Given that these movements to make eating disorder treatment more inclusive is relatively recent, there isn’t current data to show how effective it’s been.
However, what we do know is this:
- BIPOC are less likely to get treatment for an eating disorder than white people. This was true even when BIPOC were struggling with disordered eating behaviors at higher rates than their white peers .
- About 20% of people with Autism struggle with an eating disorder 
- Teenage girls from low income families are 152% more likely to struggle with bulimia than teenage girls from wealthy families 
These statistics show just how big the need is for effective and accessible eating disorder treatment for these communities. Essentially, the benefit of inclusive eating disorder treatment is that people with disabilities, people in bigger bodies, LGBTQ+ identified people, and BIPOC have a chance to recover. This is the only benefit that really matters, because human beings matter.
Resources: National Eating Disorders Association. (2021). Statistics and research on eating disorders. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/statistics-research-eating-disorders  National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. (n.d). ANAD addresses the growing need for inclusive eating disorder care. https://anad.org/anad-addresses-the-growing-need-for-inclusive-eating-disorder-care/  National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. (n.d). Inclusive eating disorder care. Retrieved from https://anad.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ANAD-Inclusive-Care-Guide-5-7-21.pdf  National Eating Disorders Association. (2021). Disability community. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/disability-community
About Our Sponsor:
At Eating Disorder Solutions, compassion is at the root of everything we do. We understand that eating disorders are complex, deeply rooted mental health and medical conditions which require personalized treatment for a successful recovery. By integrating behavioral health modalities and clinical interventions, we endeavor to address disordered eating at its source.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published July 20, 2020, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on June 20, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC