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Organizations Supporting Their Community, Part 1: Featuring MEDA, Inc.

By Kristen Bosse

MEDA, Inc., originally the Massachusetts Eating Disorders Association, was founded in 1994 by Rebecca Manley on the belief that full recovery from eating disorders is possible. MEDA's core mission is to: prevent the continuing spread of eating disorders through educational awareness and early detection. MEDA also believes that patients should receive an extensive support system during the treatment process, including a full eating disorder assessment, referrals to a network of treatment providers, and support groups. Each year, MEDA holds a national conference that brings together the top eating disorder professionals from around the country to share knowledge and exchange ideas. They will continue to provide education about eating disorders and their underlying causes to develop a compassionate community that promotes hopefulness and supports healing.

MEDA offers a variety of services that support not only the individual struggling, but the families that stand by their side. In addition to treatment from your health provider, MEDA offers clinical services that provide another form of support during the treatment process. Assessments are offered to individuals interested in discussing their concerns about their eating behaviors. Each session is an hour long and each ends with an individualized plan for the individual moving forward. Skills sessions are also available, where patients can come up with specific action steps and goals for the near future, and support groups which aid healing and provide a sense of relief in being understood. All of these treatment options act as a supplement to outpatient care, and are designed to give extra support and encouragement for a healthy lifestyle.

A unique (and amazing) division of this organization is their Parent and Family Services. "MEDA understands that eating disorders affect everyone- not just the individual who is struggling. It is important that all family members, partners, and friends receive support, so they can remain hopeful and supportive for their loved one." The services include coaching sessions and caregiver groups, which both play an important role in the treatment process for their family member. Coaching sessions are one-on-one sessions that educate the friend or family member about the individual's eating disorder, and how best to approach their specific situations. Caregiver Groups act offer a space where multiple family members can share their stories and seek help from others going through similar situations.

Media often plays a role with the development of eating disorders. With a media saturated with distorted messages about body size and the "ideal" body growing thinner, children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable because they lack the media literacy skills to understand warped and unrealistic images. The MEDA website shares a statistic about this exact topic- claiming that 40% of first to third grade girls want to be thinner. Rachel Monroe, Clinical Programs Coordinator over at MEDA, was nice enough to share her insight about this exact issue.

"Anxiety around losing weight arises when individuals relate their appearance to their self worth, and believe that being thin will make them a worthy, successful, happy person. This message is perpetuated by societal and cultural messages in media- television, movies, fashion, and most of all, the diet industry. Not all who diet will develop an eating disorder, but dieting can quickly become an obsession that is harmful to mind, body and soul and can develop into eating disorder behavior. The truth is that all bodies are worthy, important, and deserving of respect, regardless of size or weight."

MEDA strives to help the community understand signs and symptoms and where to reach out for appropriate assistance. They aim to serve those struggling with eating disorders as well as the professionals who assist them. Various events are coming up in the area for those interested in getting involved, and giving back.

A panel will be held for those who have recovered from eating disorders at Newbury College on February 26th from 7-8:30pm.
In March, MEDA is offering their 20th Annual Conference, "Spring Into Action: Infusing Creativity and Flexibility into the Eating Disorder Field".
On April 26th, they are joining with the National Eating Disorder Association to host the MEDA/NEDA Walk, a fun-filled fundraising event that welcomes all.

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Kristen has written impressive content including press releases and feature stories...

Phone: 2039130483

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