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Raising Eating Disorder Awareness Starts at Home

While eating disorders get a lot of national attention, especially with the new interest in mental disorders brought on by television shows like Hoarders, What’s Eating You? and My Strange Addiction, on the small scale, treatment and education starts at home, not on television. A group of women in North Carolina have come together and created an event not only to honor their friend, but also to bring awareness to the disorder that affected her and millions of Americans.

Lynn Dreyer was dealing with bulimia since her teenage years, but she didn’t get the help she needed. Her sister and best friend, Melissa Ritter, found that Dreyer had committed suicide due to her agonizing battle with bulimia. Though Lynn’s family did know about her battle, they were too late. “Our family was in the process of arranging an inpatient care treatment for Melissa, only we were too late,” said Dreyer.

But instead of leaving it at that and grieving on her own, Dreyer decided that she needed to bring more attention to her sister’s disease. To bring awareness to eating disorders on the local level, she started the Melissa’s Voice Foundation, an organization that helps men and women pay for the expenses that often accompany medical treatment and the treatment of eating disorders. Teaming with the National Eating Disorders Association and Networking, Women and Wine (a women’s networking organization) Dreyer organized a Sip and Savor Event, where guests visited art galleries and enjoyed food from local restaurants and wine organizations. At each gallery, there was team of medical, nutritional and counseling staff that educated viewers on the dangers of eating disorders.

Among some of the things that they learned was that only one in ten men and women who face eating disorders seeks treatment and out of those, only 35% go to a facility that specializes in treatment of eating disorders.

Dreyer and her associates Camine Pappas, Allison Sprock and Katie Brumley knew that one of the biggest challenges was paying for treatment, so they sought to alleviate that burden from anyone seeking help for their eating disorder, since many insurances don’t cover eating disorder treatments. Dreyer hopes that events like Sip and Savor bring not only awareness to the community, but also educate everyone so that families and friends can address individuals that may show signs or symptoms of an eating disorder.

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