Opportunities and Vision

Congratulations to the following new officers of the Eating Disorder Coalition:

President   — Chase Bannister, Bannister Consultancy

Vice President – Molly McShane, Monte Nido

Treasurer – Jillian Lampert, The Emily Program

Secretary – Millie Plotkin, The Eating Recovery Center

The immediate past-president is S. Bryn Austin, Academy for Eating Disorders.

For those of us who have suffered, paid the ultimate price, or who still suffer from eating disorders, let us hope that the new leadership recognizes the tremendous opportunities which lie before it … and the incredible challenges they face.

A federal district court judge in Texas ruled that The Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. Congress is in disarray as both major parties look to perpetuate their own power over the needs of the country as a whole. Despite the Mental Health Parity Act being enacted 11 years ago, insurance providers routinely treat mental health claims differently. Investigations are being conducted by several state boards of psychology against both individual counselors and treatment centers.

Private equity firms have purchased most of the residential treatment programs. This has led to speculation by families, individuals and employees of those treatment centers that quality of care has deteriorated as financial demands escalate to meet the required debt structure. This concern has escalated with the realization that private equity firms are dictating the course of lobbying efforts in our nation’s capitol. In fact, of the four officers listed above, three are employees of the private equity firms Levine, Leichtman Capital Partners (Monte Nido); TT Capital Partners (The Emily Program) and CCMP Capital Advisors (ERC).

In the past two years, there have been several instances in which counselors in residential treatment programs sexually exploited patients in those programs.

The terms “chaos,” “Wild West,” “out-of-control” have all been used by numerous people to define the current state of the eating disorder industry.

And yet, from this chaos, from these many obstacles come incredible opportunities. Opportunities that are squarely before the new incoming president. Opportunities to collaborate. Opportunities to allow the voices of families to be heard anew. Opportunities to be much more inclusive. Opportunities to show, not through his words, but through his actions, that he will not be subservient to the demands of the wealthy, but will instead embrace the greater possibilities of a better tomorrow. Opportunities to espouse a vision shared by so many families, a vision of hope, a vision of renewed strength, a vision of faith, a vision of healing.

The eating disorder industry has reached a crossroads. Some believe it has not only reached, but also surpassed a tipping point. And many people believe that business as usual is not good enough.

But still, opportunities abound for the new president. Opportunities to show independent strength. Opportunities to be the voice for those whose voices have been ripped from life. Opportunities to be a leader for those who suffer from this disease.

Opportunities to demonstrate that it is about the Power of the Message and not the Image of the Messenger.

Mr. President, embrace those opportunities.

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