Become a Recovery Mentor
Thank you for your interest in becoming an ANAD Recovery Mentor!
ANAD’s Recovery Mentorship Program offers free, online support for individuals who suffer from eating disorders and are motivated for recovery. Recovery Mentors are people who have walked the difficult road to recovery from their eating disorder and are recovered for at least 2 years. Mentors support their mentees in their journey as a source of hope, wisdom, and empathy.
Volunteer Position Overview
Recovery Mentors provide ongoing encouragement, perspective, resources, and ideas to people in outpatient therapy for their eating disorders. ANAD trains and supervises volunteers so they have help every step of the way. All Recovery Mentors must complete required ANAD volunteer training. Volunteers commit to 6 months of service at a time. During these 6 months, mentors:
- Provide 1 hour of video or phone support to each assigned mentee every week
- Share recovery story with mentee when appropriate
- Attend monthly supervision calls; participate in online discussions
Recovery Mentor Eligibility
- Belief in ANAD’s core values and mission
- 18 years or older
- Live in the United States
- Lived experience with an eating disorder and recovered for 2 years or longer; willingness to share recovery story with mentee
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills
- Sign the Agreement
- Get matched with a mentee!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, mentorship is offered via video and/or phone.
You will be matched with someone who is currently in outpatient therapy for their eating disorder. ANAD keeps clinical clearance forms for each mentee to help ensure safe boundaries between mentees and mentors.
Each week, you’ll be expected to talk with your mentee via video or phone. Video is encouraged, but ultimately it is up to the mentee. In addition, occasional text messages can be exchanged if the mentor is ok with this.
About 1 hour per week.
ANAD currently launches volunteers into service in February and August each year. Depending on when you apply, it may be several weeks before you begin training and then launch into service. It will be worth the wait!
How long will it take to train?
Training is offered 1 month prior to beginning volunteer service. Most of the training is self paced reading and activities, and can be completed in about 5-7 hours. Upon completion of the training and activities, there is a required live session on Zoom, with a chance to ask questions, practice, etc. This session is 1.5 hours.
ANAD provides ongoing support to all volunteers through our trained volunteer team leaders. These are experienced volunteers who will be available to you for crisis situations, monthly supervision calls and discussions on Slack (our volunteer engagement platform). Additionally, ANAD staff is available to assist anytime.
Put very simply, it’s personal experience with an eating disorder. Lived experience is knowledge that cannot be acquired in any way other than through direct experience. This is the personal knowledge of how illness and treatments are experienced and understood; how illness impacts identity, feelings, relationships and daily life; and knowledge of the practical processes of recovery.
See What is Recovery. You are recovered enough if you have the ability to maintain or work towards a healthy weight, control over eating disorder thoughts and behaviors, ability to identify situations of personal risk, and have self-care strategies in place to manage your own well-being. Self-care strategies include seeing a therapist, participating in a support group, as well as other personal practices.
- Recovery is not linear – there are lapses and that is expected. No one expects perfection. The key is to recognize issues, get back on target and ask for help.
- ANAD requires that there be 2 years of recovery before volunteering to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
This is the defining characteristic of peer support. Mentors draw on their personal experience and knowledge of recovery to help others work towards their own recovery. By purposefully using their own experience, mentors are able to engage others, build trust, and encourage others to discuss and make sense of their own experiences.
Yes. Research suggests that those working with peers reported hope, understanding, connectedness, relapse prevention, and more.
For more information, read more about the power of peer support.
No. Mentoring offers a different kind of connection, and can be a great supplement to therapy. It offers a low pressure relationship based on empathy, companionship, and shared experience. It helps people feel understood on a level not frequently available to them.
After you complete the application, our staff goes through all applications to match mentors and mentees to the best of their ability, based on mentee applicants’ desires to work with someone of the same gender, age, eating disorder history, etc.
All mentees are required to have professional support from a mental health professional, who provide clinical clearance for the mentees. The mentor is not an emergency service provider and strict boundaries are maintained around availability. If a mentor is concerned, they reach out to their ANAD support system, who has established protocols.
After mentorship, ANAD has established suggestions for next steps in the relationship. These are covered in training and reinforced at the end of the 6 month program.
Yes, many professionals who have had eating disorders decide to help others by becoming mentors. The role of a mentor is non-clinical so it is important that professionals have a clear understanding of one’s role as a peer support person. This can be addressed during training.
Here is a checklist we suggest (Adapted from Caswell & Logie, Reaching Out for Hope republished NEDC Stories from Experience Module 8, 2015):
- Can I talk about my experience of eating difficulties and the struggles I have been through without being distressed? Can I reflect on difficult times and still be available and present for other people?
- Is my physical health stable at the moment?
- Have I learned from my experience of illness and can I speak about the process of recovery and why it was worth it? Am I open to learning new skills like how to effectively facilitate a group and work in a safe way?
- Do I have the time, energy and availability to participate in training, group sessions and debriefing?
- Do I have a support network and self-care strategies in place? Have I demonstrated in the past that I will use these when I need them?
- Do I know my own indicators of risk? Am I able to ask for help or withdraw from the group when I am at risk?
- Am I comfortable with the fact that there is no ‘one size fits all’ way to recover from an eating disorder and that everyone needs to change at their own pace and in their own way? Can I avoid comparisons of ED experiences? Am I comfortable with the idea that recovery is always possible while still acknowledging that the process is often difficult and distressing?
- Am I committed to taking care of myself?
Your support makes a difference.
ANAD is a donation-based recovery community. We believe eating disorder support should be affordable and accessible to all. To continue offering our services for free to those who need it, we rely on donations from those who can afford them. Please consider supporting our mission.