In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or OSFED, other specified feeding or eating disorder.
And if those statistics aren’t scary enough, how about this: every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness and people are afraid to get help. For those who do want help, the lack of resources and trained professionals prevents many of them from ever receiving adequate health care for their disorder.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), two thirds of people with eating disorders never receive the treatment they deserve due to stigma, insurance problems and a lack of qualified mental health care providers.
But what if there was a way to connect the millions of struggling people with services that could potentially help them work towards recovery? Recovery Record and NEDA are doing just that. By joining forces, NEDA and leading mobile mental health platform Recovery Record are hoping to reach the millions affected by eating disorders with private, free, evidence-based, real-time support through smartphone technology.
Understanding the necessary role of feedback during treatment in the road to recovery for a person living with an eating disorder is critical for success. According to their website, Recovery Record is an eating disorder treatment app that fits seamlessly into your life and links with your treatment team to help you achieve lasting recovery. Users of the program feel more connected to their treatment team and believe that the program helps them from getting worse. Available as in iPhone or Android app, it can be used as a self-help tool or in conjunction with a treatment team. The app provides users with self-monitoring, goal setting, coping tactics, meal plans, rewards/affirmations and connectivity.
The Renew program was developed in collaboration with Stanford University and the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). “The new program builds upon the established Recovery Record app, which has been used by over 400,000 people to date, by propelling it beyond data collection and toward personalized, precision medicine,” explains NEDA. The new eight-week program is personalized for each user to access individualized feedback based on their symptoms and a custom program of SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals, cognitive-behavioral techniques and coping strategies. Essentially, the program aims to provide a private, data-driven and immediately accessible intervention option for symptom improvement.
The Renew app is being evaluated in a 5,000-person study, the largest clinical trial to date in the eating disorder field. According to NEDA, people who worry they might be at risk can now complete a brief online screener and will subsequently have access to the Renew program, the NEDA Helpline), and all at no cost. “Recovery is possible and early intervention can improve outcomes—this app helps bridge many of the barriers to treatment.”
If interested in the study, install the Recovery Record app on your iPhone or Android phone and click on the “Week Program” section to see if you are eligible. If you are, the program will automatically be unlocked in the app for you to start. “The aim is to make it easier than ever for people to overcome stigma and take the next step toward connecting with care,” explains NEDA.
This partnership between NEDA and Recovery Record helps bring NEDA’s goal of connecting every person in need with evidence-based resources, even closer to being met. “Mobile technology is helping transform eating disorders treatment by making it readily available to everyone, regardless of location, demographic or circumstance,” says Claire Mysko, CEO of NEDA. “We are excited to partner with Recovery Record to help reach more people who need help and drive research,” she adds.
Image: Janos Heidinger, CC-BY
Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer specializing in health, fitness, and wellness.