The Smartphone Psychiatrist

Sometime around 2010, about two-thirds of the way through his 13 years at the helm of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)—the world’s largest mental-health research institution—Tom Insel started speaking with unusual frankness about how both psychiatry and his own institute were failing to help the mentally ill. Insel, runner-trim, quietly alert, and constitutionally diplomatic, did not rant about this. It’s not in him. You won’t hear him trash-talk colleagues or critics.

Yet within the bounds of his unbroken civility, Insel began voicing something between a regret and an indictment. In writings and public talks, he lamented the pharmaceutical industry’s failure to develop effective new drugs for depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia; academic psychiatry’s overly cozy relationship with Big Pharma; and the paucity of treatments produced by the billions of dollars the NIMH had spent during his tenure. He blogged about the failure of psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to provide a productive theoretical basis for research, then had the NIMH ditch the DSMaltogether—a decision that roiled the psychiatric establishment. Perhaps most startling, he began opening public talks by showing charts that revealed psychiatry as an underachieving laggard: While medical advances in the previous half century had reduced mortality rates from childhood leukemia, heart disease, and aids by 50 percent or more, they had failed to reduce suicide or disability from depression or schizophrenia.

Published on the Atlantic website as part of their July/August 2017 issue
Written by: David Dobbs

EDRC Receives SCCBHB Agency Hero Award

From left to right: Toni Tullys, Director of County Behavioral Services, EDRC founder Janice Bremis, and volunteer Max Sala

On 4 May 2017, The Santa Clara County Behavioral Health Board (SCCBHB) honored Silicon Valley’s Eating Disorder Resource Center (EDRC) with the AGENCY HERO award, a part of the Community Heroes Award Ceremony. These honors are given to community agencies and members who have made an extraordinary difference in the lives of people with behavioral health illness.

Toni Tullys, Director of County Behavioral Services, and Gary Miles, Ph.D., Board President, presented the award to Founder Janice Bremis and volunteer Max Sala, recognizing the EDRC’s outstanding service and commitment to increasing research efforts, professional development, treatment access, and public awareness on eating disorders. The EDRC’s mission is inspired by Ms. Bremis’s dedication to end suffering for individuals by promoting access to quality care. We provide families and local communities resources for prevention and treatment and offer multiple support groups across the Bay Area.

Treatment for Eating Disorders Goes Mobile

Every day for the past six months, a 29-year-old actress in New York has been logging every meal via an app to monitor what she eats and more importantly how she feels afterward.

“It shows the correlation between the emotion and food,” said the actress, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym, Anita. “That’s really great.”

Anita uses a mobile app called Recovery Record, part of a growing trend of mobile technology designed to help people with eating disorders.

Now the National Eating Disorders Association is hoping to capitalize on that trend by partnering with Recovery Record on a new platform called Renew.

The new platform builds on the app that Anita taps into by allowing users to receive personalized guidance for coping with eating disorder symptoms.

The aim is to reach more people suffering from eating disorders and connect them to the national association’s crisis helpline, other tools and treatment.

Published on the ABC News website on 3.6.17
Written by: Gillian Mohney

Can Patients with Eating Disorders Learn to Eat Intuitively? A 2-Year Pilot Study

Center for Change is committed to helping further research that it is essential for documenting and improving the effectiveness of eating disorder treatment programs and for increasing professionals’ understanding of these disorders. We are pleased to present the results of our 2-year pilot study that has been published in Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention.

To view the study, click here. 

To learn more about the ongoing research at Center for Change, click here.

Published on the Center for Change website on 6.1.17


Eating Disorders: South Bay Students Win Body-Image Essay Contest

Six South Bay students have been named winners in the Eating Disorders Resource Center’s eighth annual Every Body’s Beautiful writing contest.

In the high school division, Sean-Yuei Tseng and Vivian Le, both seniors at Piedmont Hills High, placed first and second respectively and Ayushi Ray, a sophomore at Cupertino, placed third.

In the middle-school division, Carina Chiu, an eighth-grader at University Preparatory Academy charter school in San Jose placed first; and Elisia Macias, a seventh-grader at Brownell Middle School in Gilroy placed second. The third-place winner chose to remain anonymous.

Published on The Mercury News website on 4.12.17
Written by: Sharon Noguchi

We Cannot Continue to Overlook ‘High-Functioning’ Depression

I first saw a psychiatrist for my anxiety and depression as a junior in high school. During her evaluation, she asked about my classes and grades. I told her that I had a 4.0 GPA and had filled my schedule with Pre-AP and AP classes. A puzzled look crossed her face. She asked about my involvement in extracurricular activities. As I rattled off the long list of groups and organizations I was a part of, her frown creased further.

Finally, she set down her pen and looked at me, saying something along the lines of, “You seem to be pretty high-functioning, but your anxiety and depression seem pretty severe. Actually, it’s teens like you who scare me a lot.”

Now I was confused. What was scary about my condition? From the outside, I was functioning like a perfectly “normal” teenager. In fact, I was somewhat of an overachiever. I was working through my mental illnesses and succeeding, so what was the problem?

Published on The Mighty website on 5.23.16
Written by: Amanda Leventhal

My Eating Disorder Had Nothing to Do with Barbie or the Media

A lot of people with an eating disorder will find the idea that it’s caused by Barbies or supermodels insulting and patronizing. It’s a mental illness, not a bad case of vanity.

When I was ten years old, I had a Barbie doll. I had VHS copies of every Disney movie ever made, and a stack of Cosmo magazines I’d stolen from my older sister. Six years later, I had anorexia. None of these things are related.

You can hardly go online nowadays without coming across an aggressively angry article decrying something or someone for perpetuating “unrealistic body standards”—be it Topshop mannequin, a Disney character’s waistband, or, time and time again, Barbie dolls.

Paradoxically, in discussions of “unrealistic bodies,” real women get the most stick for their stick-figures, be it flat-bellied celebrities on Instagram, or, most frequently, the entire modeling industry itself.

Published on the Vice magazine website on 2.20.15
Written by: Amelia Tait

Recovery Is Possible – Michelle’s Story

This month we feature the story of Michelle, who talks about her eating disorder developing from a harmless attempt at establishing healthier dietary patterns.  It is a powerful reminder of how diets are not a good idea for anyone, but also how recovery IS possible for everyone. 

All throughout my early childhood and pre-teen years, I had a healthy relationship with food. I never counted calories, never analyzed the back of nutritional labels, and never thought twice about what I ate, food was food. It wasn’t until the beginning of my senior year in high school, about 10 years ago, when I started noticing I was gaining some weight and was not as “fit” as some of my friends. Consequently, I slowly started to become more aware of the foods I ate. I also joined a gym in hopes of becoming more toned and losing a few pounds. My new fitness journey started out healthy, within a couple of weeks I was noticing a difference and felt better. My friends were noticing too and complimenting me on my new physical changes, which boosted my motivation.

With my new “confidence” I wanted to continue my healthy lifestyle and lose a few more pounds, then I would be truly happy (so I told myself).  I began being very strict with my diet, eliminating as many “bad” foods as possible. Certain foods were no longer “allowed.” My workouts at the gym increased substantially. Without realizing it, I was putting my body into a state of starvation, and I was spiraling downwards, quickly. I became obsessed with the scale, weighing in every morning and every night, sometimes even after school to make sure I didn’t put on too much water weight. The number on the scale consumed me. I could not have a high number on the scale, it just wasn’t acceptable.

Published on the Cielo House website on 3.29.17
Written by: Michelle Reuter

EDRC Press Release (3/30/17) – EDRC Announces Winners of 2017 Every Body’s Beautiful Writing Contest with a Record Breaking Number of Participants!

From the 3.30.17 press release:

EDRC Announces Winners of 2017 Every Body’s Beautiful Writing Contest with a Record Breaking Number of Participants!

Eating Disorders Resource Center (EDRC) is pleased to announce the student winners of its eighth annual Every Body’s Beautiful Writing Contest. The contest gives middle and high school students the opportunity to address self-love, self-acceptance, and the media’s effect on body image. A local high school videography class will make videos of the first-place winning entries. Through this, we are involving more young people in the topic and the creative process, as well as bringing the message into a medium more likely to be widely used and shared by today’s youth.

This year we received over 200 student entries from 35 different middle and high schools. Our esteemed participants shared what beauty means to them and how the media affects their body image. Judges included Peter Tavernise, Cisco Foundation; Munira Nasser Webb, Cisco; Allison Bennett, Peachjar; Matthew Wilson, Bay Area News Group; Louise Persson, AAUW Strong Girl’s Conference; and Laurie Kelm, FASS Services.

First, second and third place winners for each category will receive cash prizes of $300, $200, and $100, respectively in the next month. Special thanks to this year’s sponsors; Palo Alto Medical Foundation and the Santa Clara County Library District.

2nd Place: Vivian Le, Grade 12, Piedmont Hills High School
3rd Place: Ayushi Ray, Grade 10, Cupertino High School

2nd Place: Elisia Macias, Grade 7, Brownell Middle School
3rd Place: Anonymous, Grade 8, Venture Academy

Each time that she looks at herself today,
she vows to find something nice to say.
She won’t break herself down any longer
or make the cruel dragon any stronger.
She’s waited too long for a prince to swoop in,
not realizing that true love comes from within.
Now, she’ll rewrite the fairytales on her shelf
so the princess can finally save herself.
– Excerpt from our first place High School Winner, Sean-Yuei Tseng

Irvington High School Volunteers Represent EDRC at 2017 Evergreen Valley College (EVC) Strong Women Leadership Conference

Volunteers Amanda Tran (L) and Kyra Lorenzo (R) pose in front of the EDRC conference booth.

On March 18, three volunteers from Irvington High School represented EDRC in the 2017 Evergreen Valley College Strong Women Leadership Conference. Presented by the San Jose chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and Evergreen Valley College Women and Gender Studies Department, the event included a resource fair, raffle contest, and a variety of workshops on campus sexual assault, healthy relationships, and positive body image.

View photos of the conference and volunteer Katherine Chan’s reflection on the event here.