Q&A: Bringing treatment for eating disorders at home

Eating Disorders a Mortality rates are higher than other mental health conditions, but many people struggle to access treatment. According to a report by Striped, the Academy for Eating Disorders and Deloitte Access Economics, 28.8 million Americans living in 2018 and 2019 will suffer from eating disorders at some point in their lives.

Equip, a virtual eating disorder treatment company, aims to improve access to and effectiveness of care through family-based therapies that work with their family members as well as patients at home during recovery. Founded in 2019, the startup has announced that it has picked up বি 58 million in Series B funding earlier this year.

Christina Safran, CEO and co-founder of Equip, sat down MobiHealthNews To discuss the company’s nationwide expansion, how the Covid-19 epidemic has affected food outbreaks, and why more research and investment is needed in this area. This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

MobiHealthNews: You are currently focusing on children, adolescents and young adults. Is it because it is a population where eating disorders are more common? Or are you planning to expand?

Christina Safran: We plan to expand. By the beginning of spring 2023 we will be extending to adults beyond the age of 24 years. This is a great question. I’ve been working on it since I was 15, basically, and have recovered. My goal in life is to make sure that other people can get well.

The honest answer is to start with anything, I think you should start with the focus and really get it off the park. And the most evidence has been made with family-based treatment of children and adolescents. Family-based treatment is easier when the children are at home and you are financially responsible for them.

That said, nothing will change in your brain the day you turn 18. And our program clearly has adults, 23 years old, 24 years old. It just gets a little harder, and we expand our definition of what a family is. Even with teenagers, we have foster parents, we have teachers who can play that role. But more so with adults, we really rely on partners, on friends, on college roommates, on wives.

For those who do not come with a helper, the first month of treatment is really focused, how can we find at least one helper to help you through recovery? These are brain disorders, and it’s really, really, really hard to fight your brain many times a day.

The other thing with adults is that we also treat comorbidities. There are more Intercourse, and the population is even more heterogeneous.

MHN: There was a lot of talk about mental health at the height of the COVID-19 epidemic and there were also concerns about the increased rate of eating disorders. Have you noticed an increase? Do you think it’s getting better, or is it something we still need to address?

Saffron: No. I think we will see the long-term effects of the epidemic in the next few years. We must have seen a spike. The number of hospital admissions, especially for adolescents, has doubled during the epidemic. Legend has it that our clinical partners have told us that children are getting sicker and sicker than ever before.

I think it’s a few things about the epidemic that made it worse. One, eating disorders increase over social isolation. These are kids who stay at school and use mood traits that put you at risk for eating disorders – type A, perfectionism drive – to focus on school work, or hobbies or curriculum. Now, all this time at home they focus only on themselves and their bodies.

In addition, obviously, social media does not help. We know that on average kids spend around Seven hours [per day] On their phone. And the harmful algorithms we see on social media are constantly bombarded with unrealistic images and even openly throwing out horrible, horrible pro-eating disorder content.

And then, finally, we know that as a community’s food insecurity increases, so does the eating disorder. Rising, as well as during the epidemic we must have seen more of it.

MHN: There has been a lot of investment in digital mental health space, especially for conditions like depression and anxiety. Why do you think that the treatment of eating disorders has not been so invented?

Saffron: Honestly, there are many reasons for this, but I think they all come back to the stigma surrounding eating disorders. People do not understand eating disorders. Most people think it’s a white, rich-girls vanity problem, when we know it couldn’t be further from the truth. Eating disorders affect people equally across races, classes, and ethnicities. You can’t really tell by looking at them that someone has a eating disorder. And then, moreover, they do not like; They don’t have vanity problems. They have strong genetic and neurobiological underpinning, but we still have a lot of stigma attached to eating disorders. We still blame the patient.

I think it leads to a field that has been underfunded. Obtained about the Eating Disorders study Alzheimer’s disease costs $ 9 per person, compared to পায় 200 or more per person. When you don’t have a ton of funds, you can’t run a ton of innovation in this space.

And then, unfortunately, in this kind of void in the landscape of good care and stigma, we saw in 2008, when the Mental Health Equality Act was passed, that private equity Has poured a lot of money into benefit-based care. These private equity-backed residential centers have the most money in the field and the field to run the direction they want.

MHN: So, on that funding note, you announced the বি 58 million Series B in February. How have you expanded since then and what are some of your goals for the future?

Saffron: I’m excited to say that one of my biggest goals from the start has been to enter all 50 states, plus [Washington] A couple of weeks ago as DC, we were there. We have not yet made an official announcement.

We were in four states when it started a year ago. And we’ve started to move families to the state line to take care of us, which was flattering, but obviously heartbreaking – why we wanted to start this company, the opposite of staying home with your family. So, expanding to 50 states plus DC was absolutely huge for us and huge for our mission.

I don’t want any family to have to pay out of pocket. I believe by 2021 we have 86% of households using their in-network facilities. We have made a lot of progress in terms of the agreement. But obviously, there is still much to do. In particular, with Medicaid, with Medicare we are for adults and with TRICARE. I want everyone to have it covered by their financiers.

And then, finally, you hit a big one, which is spreading to adults so that this treatment is really available to everyone suffering from eating disorders. So, we’re working as hard as we can on those initiatives.

Then, the final thing I would say is that we chose the Cherinin group to lead our Series B because we really wanted someone who would help us change that cultural narrative around eating disorders. We cannot reach everyone with eating disorders and have access to good treatment if the majority of the population still thinks that eating disorders are seen and does not understand the extent of who they are. We need to make sure that everyone has access to a diagnosis and that it starts with a lot of psychoanalysis around the appearance of eating disorders.

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