Sunday, May 2, 2010

The FREED Act

There used to be a character on Saturday Night Live named Stuart Smalley, who was the host of a fake self-help show (pictured above-haha). I never really watched it because I was young when it was on, but I have seen highlights of it on different SNL highlight shows. Anyways, the character in this sketch is obsessed with twelve-step programs, and is involved in a number of them. He isn't a trained therapist, just someone who is trying to overcome his own addictions and help others on this same journey. His famous line, as you can see from the picture above, is something that he would look in the mirror and repeat to himself as a positive affirmation: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone it, people like me!" He had many catchphrases that poked fun at 'psychobabble' and self-help lingo. He even turned this sketch into a movie called Stuart Saves His Family--I had to watch it for a class once and write a paper on it :-).

Anyways, in an ironic twist of fate, Al Franken, who played the role of Stuart Smalley, is known also for his political work- he is currently a senator in the state of Minnesota and is advocating for eating disorders! Amy Klobuchar, also a Minnesotan senator, and Tom Harkin, a senator from Iowa, have teamed up to introduce a new bill which Franken is sponsoring. This bill is called the FREED Act (Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders) and it's goal is to "allocate research money to the National Institutes of Health to better investigate the causes of eating disorders and improve treatment methods. The research would also seek to improve public data on eating disorders, including morbidity and mortality rates." This quote was taken from an article published in The Minnesota Daily and the article in its entirety can be read here. The gist though is summarized in a quote Franken gave to the paper- he said, "We don't know nearly enough about diagnosing, treating and preventing these diseases. [This] legislation is a major step forward in understanding eating disorders and how to stop them from destroying lives."

To put things into perspective, the NIH (National Institutes of Health) allows $1.20 towards research per person with an eating disorder, contrasted with $159 towards research per person with someone who has schizophrenia (whose prevalence is significantly less). That is pretty staggering!! Last week was lobby day for the Eating Disorders Coalition, and this was an exciting day for eating disorder advocacy! I have no political agenda that I push when I write my blog- however, I think it is important for us to know the facts and to be educated, and to be able to act if we feel moved to do so! To read more on this act and what it aims to do, follow this link. If you are interested in finding out how YOU can advocate for increased eating disorder funding for research, prevention and treatment, follow this link to write to your Congressperson!

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