a bill of rights for people with eating disorders

earlier this year, the academy for eating disorders put together a bill of rights for people with eating disorders. i’m very surprised to see that pretty much no one on the web discusses it. so i’ll start. first, here is the bill:

  1. right to communication/partnership with health professionals
  2. right to comprehensive assessment and treatment planning
  3. right to accessible, high quality, fully funded, specialized care
  4. right to respectful, fully informed, age appropriate, safe, levels of care
  5. right of carers to be informed, valued and respected as a treatment resource
  6. right of carers to accessible, appropriate support and education resources

here’s a few points for discussion:

this bill, which is associated with the charter for action on eating disorders, was “produced through the collaboration between the academy for eating disorders and other professional and patient/carer organizations around the world.”

i’d be interested in what my friends in political science have to say about this (ray? ashok?) but the way i understand it, bills of rights are usually drawn up by and originate from the people who are to benefit from them. so i’m a little leery of a bill of rights that’s put together by “experts”.

the whole tone of this document is a bit patronizing: experts talking about and for (as opposed to with, or under the direction of) “people”. it’s interesting here to remember some of the political connotations of the term “people” – as in “we the people“.

for example, “the precise nature and degree of carer involvement should be based on the wishes of the person with the eating disorder and their carers [i.e. families and loved ones].” apart from the fact that this is ambiguous, it takes away power from the person with the eating disorder. which may partly be the very reason why the person got the eating disorder in the first place.

on the other hand, there are also some positives, for example

  • threats, coercion and punishments have no place in the treatment of eating disorders
  • people with eating disorders have a right to expect that healthcare practitioners will help them to plan for and manage the transition between hospital and the community
  • people with eating disorders should expect that their treatment will address both their nutritional and physical health and safety, and their psychological health and quality of life

all in all, i like the idea of a bill of right. there may be quite a bit of work to do yet to get it more in line with the interests of the actual people concerned but it’s good that the academy for eating disorders made a start.

let’s hear it from people who currently have or have in the past had eating disorders. what do you think?

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

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