The Virtual Age of Eating Disorders

Collaboration by ANAD & Equip

An empowering series to help patients and caregivers understand and navigate available eating disorder treatment options in a growing virtual landscape. We hope this information will help connect those in need with options that honor their identities and meet their needs at every stage of recovery.

Virtual treatment isn’t just valid — it’s vital.

There’s no sugarcoating this reality: people struggling with eating disorders don’t have adequate resources to support them.

In recent years, eating disorder rates have surged, but there hasn’t been an equal increase in eating disorder treatment programs. Thousands of people live many miles from the nearest treatment center, and even those who have one nearby may face long waitlists or prohibitive financial costs. Others simply don’t have the option to press pause on all of their responsibilities to enter treatment. When the resources available are not accessible, it’s just as frustrating as if they don’t exist.

Virtual treatment doesn’t get rid of all these problems, but it offers a promising opportunity for addressing them. 

Today, virtual services let people get support from anywhere. At Equip, patients have access to a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program that comes to them, that fits into their existing lives. At ANAD, virtual groups provide deeply needed community and support to the countless people who can’t drive an hour to in-person meetings. People join groups or provider appointments in between classes or after they get the kids to bed; people who don’t drive or can’t afford gas aren’t limited by transportation barriers; people who can’t take a leave from school or work are given the chance at lasting recovery. 

The virtual nature of our services doesn’t make them “less than.” People can use services like ANAD and Equip because they are virtual. It’s only because they are easy to access that people are able to find recovery.

Removing the need to travel to treatment makes recovery possible for so many people. As more patients, families, and eating disorder professionals come to accept this form of treatment, we’re hopeful that we’ll begin to close the immense gap between the number of people struggling with eating disorders and those who are able to get treatment.

Kristina Saffran, CEO of Equip

Kristen Portland, ANAD Executive Director

Learning from the past,
Understanding the present

There are more treatment options now than ever before. Let’s take a look at how we’ve arrived here while providing a better understanding of how the virtual options of today open the door to so many more people.

ANAD Founder Vivian Meehan organizes the first support groups for people with eating disorders.
The ANAD Helpline begins as a home phone number with Vivian Meehan answering calls for support at all hours of the day and night.
A section on eating disorders, specifically anorexia nervosa, is added to the Diagnositc and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) recognizing the seriousness of this mental health condition.
The first residential treatment centers specializing in eating disorders begin to open.
ANAD is involved in the formation of the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) to help providers, researchers, and the community connect and collaborate with each other and keep abreast of recent developments in eating disorders research.
The Maudsley Method, known now as Family-Based Treatment (FBT) emerges as a treatment option for adolescents suffering with an eating disorder.
Advances in pharmaceuticals and therapeutic interventions such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) offer new avenues and hope for those seeking recovery.
ANAD announces a recovery peer mentorship program focused on providing one-on-one support to individuals in active treatment.
Kristina Saffran and Dr. Erin Parks launch Equip, a fully virtual, evidence-based treatment model.
All ANAD Support Groups move to virtual format, breaking down accessibility barriers.
ANAD peer support programs serve more than 10,000 individuals nationwide.
Early 2000's

Understanding Virtual Care

Exploring Peer

A look at how an understanding of lived experience makes such a difference.

Fitting Recovery Into Your Life: What You Do

Exploring how virtual care allows for individuals to fit recovery into their lives.

Fitting Recovery Into Your Life: Who You Are

Let’s talk more about how treatment should honor you identity.

Caregivers & The Support Community

There is no denying the power of community in healing. Virtual care must also support the caregivers and loved ones.

The Future of Virtual Care

What still needs to be done? Where do we go from here?