SB 184 and World Eating Disorders Day

Today, June 2, 2021 is World Eating Disorders Day. For the most part, mainstream society does not know it exists. But, for those who have been devastated by eating disorders, it is one more significant day, a reminder of that which was taken from us. One more noted day in which we remember. A day to remember how parents like me, frighten so many of those involved in the eating disorder community.

But for today, we choose to not mourn the fallen but to embrace the future. For it is only by embracing a future with hope, with compassion, with strength and with resolve, that we can hope to save the lives of others. And so, let us embrace hope by first looking back at the recent past. At an event which occurred that gives us hope for the future.

Thursday, May 20, 2021.  A date the eating disorder community should celebrate. For on that day, an eating disorder bill was approved by a House of Representatives and a State Senate and sent to that state’s governor for signature. And it happened in one of the most unlikely of places. On that date, Senate Bill 184 (SB 184) was sent to Governor Greg Abbott for signature. What was that state? Texas.

What is SB 184?

SB 184 is embedded here:

First, SB 184 was overwhelming approved with support from both Republicans and Democrats in the Texas State House and Senate.

So, why is SB 184 important?

It is axiomatic that when you build anything, a house, an office building, a relationship, an organization, you MUST first build a strong foundation. Without a strong foundation, you are building a mirage, a castle on sand. SB 184 builds a strong foundation. This bill states in material part:

(a)       The Department of State Health Services, in collaboration with the Health and Human Services Commission, shall prepare a report on the prevalence of eating disorders and eating disorder-related deaths in this state. The report must include:

(1)       A regional and statewide statistics regarding the prevalence of eating disorders and eating disorder-related deaths in this state;

(2)       An overview of national trends in eating disorders; and

(3)       An overview of state-funded behavioral health treatment options available to persons with eating disorders.

From that Report,  no later than December 1, 2023, the Department of State Health Services and the Health and Human Services Commission is required to prepare and submit to the legislature a copy of the report and any recommendations for legislative or other action to reduce the prevalence of eating disorders and eating disorder-related deaths in this state.

That’s it.

There is no demand for state funding. No education requirement. No nutritional teaching mandate. No demand for social engineering. Instead, the message of SB 184 is fundamental and clear, that is, we must first thoroughly understand this disease, how prevalent it is, how deadly it is and what current options exist to treat it. For it is only by thoroughly understanding the problem that we can hope to find real life solutions.

Further, this process of analyzing problems has a history of success in the State of Texas. A past legislature mandated a comprehensive white paper on overall mental health services for children in the State of Texas. In December of 2018, a 145 page paper was distributed to all of the incoming Representatives and Senators in Texas. This white paper resulted in SB 11 which created the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium which organized a collaborative entity among the health related institutions of higher learning, state agencies and private organizations to study and then find solutions for increasing access to mental health care on a state-wide basis.

On this World Eating Disorders Day, at least in Texas, we choose to not look at mistakes of the past. We choose to not question past decisions or eating disorder organizations or entities. Instead, we choose to embrace hope. We embrace vision. We embrace wisdom. We embrace the opportunity to strive forward, to look toward a brighter future. In Texas, a foundation is being built. A foundation that will support a mighty house upon which we can save lives, one precious life at a time.

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