Last week, our Executive Director, Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh, attended a meeting with the Eating Disorders Leadership Summit. Leaders of the AED, EDC, Alliance for Eating Disorders, NEDA, REDC, ANAD, IAEDP, and F.E.A.S.T. sat down (virtually) for a semi-regular meeting of organizations. Among the topics were a talking points project and how to productively address controversial issues in our field.
The project to agree upon statistics and talking points has been in the works for a few years, and led by informationist Millie Plotkin from the Eating Recovery Foundation’s Eating Disorders Information Gateway (EDIG). A draft copy of the talking points is being circulated and vetted by experts in the field and we hope it will be published jointly and housed on the AED website. Having good numbers on who are affected by eating disorders that is well-sourced is an important milestone for the field. Being able to share a common literature and talking points among leading organizations is vital.
We also discussed how to engage with one another and with those on social media in ways that are both responsive to the public and respectful to one another.
“The eating disorders community has historically avoided both conflict and collaboration, but there is too much suffering that is going unaddressed and no time to waste,” Lyster-Mensh said after the meeting. “Where there are differences of opinion we need to face them directly. Where there are opportunities to do good work together we need to support one another.”
F.E.A.S.T. is proud to be solutions-focused in the eating disorder community and give voice to families at high levels in our field. Parents have often felt unheard and stigmatized as advocates but we believe in showing up and speaking up not just as individuals but as a community. We show respect for our colleagues in the treatment and research and advocacy community, but as an often dissenting voice we also expect that respect in return.
The dialogue is ongoing and while not always comfortable is necessary for the progress we all want to see. Better treatment and support for families around the world requires engagement with professionals in the field, policy-makers, and researchers. Not all of these conversations go on in public. We are honored to represent and speak up for the needs of families.