Normal in Schools Debuts Online Educational Film 2/20

NORMAL in Schools (NIS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to education about eating disorders (ED), self esteem and wellness, launched today an online educational film to coincide with national Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February 20-26, 2011). The powerful documentary-style film exposes the growing problem of eating disorders in our society, debunks myths, explores treatment options, and calls for better training of the medical community in managing this life-threatening condition.

Created by NIS Founder and President Robyn Hussa after five years of research while entrenched in schools, treatment hospitals and working with families struggling with eating disorders, the film is penetrating and insightful in shedding light on a highly misunderstood mental illness, while shattering misconceptions about ED through in-depth commentary from physicians, psychologists, clinicians, and ED and mental health experts. According to Dr. Stephen Hinshaw, Chair of Psychology at UC-Berkeley, "At least one-fourth of all U.S. teenage girls are suffering from self-mutilation, eating disorders, significant depression, or serious contemplation of suicide."

Startling facts include:

· 25 million Americans struggle with an ED
· 40% of newly-identified anorexia cases occur in girls aged 15-19
· Patients battling anorexia are up to 10x more likely to die as a result of their illness, and ED may have the highest death rate of any behavioral disorder
· Problems coping with ED can begin as early as ages 4-5
· Studies estimate that 60-70% of adolescent girls are dieting, and according to the NIMH 35-40% of dieters will develop an ED
· There is an average gap of 10 years between noticing symptoms of mental illness and getting treatment
· In the U.S., females have a 28% lifetime risk of major depression. With an ED, the risk is 70+%

The film cites the untimely deaths of three talented, award-winning students due to the unrelenting destruction caused by eating disorders - and in doing so, reveals a healthcare system and medical community that is often woefully inadequate in providing treatment or solutions.

"In bringing our program into schools, we're seeing an alarming number of kids telling us that they are experiencing symptoms of ED," says Hussa, producer of the film. "Unfortunately, we are seeing that there are not nearly enough resources to help them."

Multiple doctors affirm that people at highest risk for ED share specific genetic, biological, and physiological factors that together create a predisposition for ED. Yet the complexity of ED makes it very difficult to treat, adds Dr. Emmett R. Bishop Jr., founding partner of Eating Recovery Center in Denver. "If you know the field of ED, you know the field of mental health; you have to know it all to treat ED patients. We're working to get more specialization in the field, through IAEDP, so the public can more easily identify knowledgeable healthcare professionals in ED."

The NIS film stresses the importance of prevention through improved family communication to help kids build greater resilience. Available treatment options suggested include National Eating Disorder Association's (NEDA) helpline, the Maudsley family-based treatment program -- an alternative to costly in-patient or hospital services, and the Columbia Center for ED. "We need to be doing more in schools to recognize the illness, talk to the parents, and steer these people toward help," says NEDA CEO Lynn Grefe.

The NIS educational film may be viewed online at: <> for a limited time, in honor and support of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.


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