In the United States alone, there are 30 million Americans suffering with an eating disorder, and that only includes formal diagnoses. Despite this prevalence, only 20% receive treatment. The other 24 million cannot access the care they need due to insurmountable financial and insurance barriers, in addition to pervasive systemic oppression and bias. These barriers have serious consequences: eating disorders are the second most fatal mental illness (after Opioid Use Disorder), with one person dying as a direct result of an eating disorder every 52 minutes.
The stereotypes of who has an eating disorder – white, young, female, thin, affluent – are not accurate or representative, but they do exist for a reason: they are the subgroup that has been the focus of research and treatment marketing because they are the subgroup who is more likely to have the resources to access treatment. Research is clear that people of every ethnicity, age, gender, body shape and size, and socioeconomic status struggle with eating disorders, but our broken healthcare system prevents them from utilizing the resources required to achieve recovery.
Project HEAL’s goal is to change that system and, in the meantime, to provide life-saving support to people with eating disorders who the system fails.