TELL Japan

June 2nd is World Eating Disorders Action Day 

Published on May 31, 2017

There is general consensus among Japanese experts that the prevalence of eating disorders in Japan is comparable to those reported in western countries. Unfortunately, the number of those affected who present for treatment in Japan remains very low compared to the amount who seek treatment in western countries. The results from the most recent large-scale government survey revealed that there were approximately 26,000 patients who presented to medical services with eating disorders between 2014 and 2015, but the actual number of affected individuals who are in need of care is estimated to be at least several fold of this number.

There is a multitude of issues that can create barriers to receiving care for an eating disorder in Japan. The first major barrier is lack of public awareness of eating disorders. Most people outside of the medical field are unaware of the signs that they or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder. If there is awareness about the signs of an eating disorder, the individual or family may not know what to do to get help. There may even be ambivalence toward receiving treatment because of normalization of unhealthy diet trends and encouraging risky eating and exercising behaviors. Moreover, a majority of people feel shame or guilt around needing both professional medical and mental health services.

If a person is able to overcome all of those barriers to engaging in treatment, they may find it very challenging to find a facility that can serve their needs. Currently, Japan has a shortage of treatment facilities and trained specialists for eating disorders. When there are specialists, the patient may have difficulties in accessing sufficient treatment under the current public health system due to waitlists and proximity to care centers.

The TELL Eating Disorders Program was founded in 2010 with the mission of making the treatment of eating disorders more available and accessible for the international community. A key part of achieving our mission has been raising  public awareness around eating disorders. Through education, we actively combat stigma and debunk the myths around eating disorders. Through community engagement, we are changing the dialogue around eating disorders in both the local and international communities in Japan. This is the first step to effecting change in treatment approaches and practices in Japan.

June 2nd is World Eating Disorders Action Day (http://www.worldeatingdisordersday.org/) and TELL will be one of many organizations across the globe expressing our active position on this important topic via our social media platforms.

TELL will also be participating in a local live event hosted by the Japan Association for Eating Disorders on June 4th (https://www.jafed.jp/pdf/wedad/2017_actionday_a4.pdf) where the eating disorder community in Japan (including affected individuals and carers, supporting professionals, groups and organizations) unite to make a difference.

Lastly, we are excited to announce that TELL’s eating disorder program will be launching a new eating disorder prevention project this fall. To kickoff our new project, we will have Dr. Eric Stice present on the latest research evidence in the field of eating disorders. Dr. Stice is a renowned expert in the field of eating disorder research and prevention. His presentation will emphasize identifying risk factors and implementing prevention programs. For more information, please visit http://telljp.com/event/drstice/

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