About the Joy Project
The Joy Project is a non-profit, grassroots organization based on the philosophy of using real-world, workable solutions to end the epidemic of eating disorders. We work towards reducing the rate and severity of eating disorders by supporting and conducting research, education, and support programs.
The Joy Project does not seek to replace or discourage traditional or current treatments, but to expand the options for treatment. We seek to make treatment options more accessible to anyone affected and find and implement ways to make treatment more effective. The Joy Project seeks to empower individuals with eating disorders to be active participants in their own recovery.
The Joy Project has testified before members of Congress, created public service announcements to promote the message – “eating disorders come in ALL shapes and sizes” — and have spoken to members of the general medical community on how to help people with eating disorders in a way that is validating and effective.
The goal of The Joy Project is to fill in the gaps caused by inadequate access to eating disorder treatment, and create a dialogue between researchers, treatment professionals, and those affected by eating disorders, in order to foster a better understanding of how to help people not only recover, but remain recovered. The Joy Project empowers eating disordered individuals by allowing them to use their own experience to advocate for themselves and others, and to create a community of support and hope among those who share the illness. The Joy Project’s all volunteer staff are dedicated individuals who truly believe that people with eating disorders can move beyond their illness to be strong, empowered, unique, and accomplished individuals. Numerous services are provided by The Joy Project at no cost, and there are plans to launch additional, cost-effective, supportive programming that can easily be replicated elsewhere.
- We intend to develop programming that will produce the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people affected by eating disorders while creatively using the least amount of resources possible.
- We strive to stay informed on current academic research and to pass on well-researched information to our clientele.
- We believe that recovery is a unique experience for every individual. We do not measure success by whether our clients gain or lose a specific amount of weight, or consume a specific number of calories without fail. Instead, we believe that healthy eating is essential, yet only a piece of the recovery process. Ultimately, our goal is to assist individuals in learning how to eat normally so they can maintain an active and fulfilling life. We encourage our clientele to discover their own unique skills and goals, focus on finding balance, strengthen their social skills and contacts, and continuously grow as an individual.
- We want to make our programming available to all who may need it. We will not discriminate based on sex, race, class, gender, weight, age, location, specific diagnosis, or economic status. Whenever possible, we strive to provide our services for free or at very low cost so they will be accessible to all.
- We will strive to remain an unbiased source of information. We will not accept donations from for-profit eating-disorder organizations if that donation is intended to earn any sort of favor or positive review.
- We intend to involve individual who suffer or have suffered from eating disorders in all aspects of our programming. We will not prohibit eating-disordered individuals from volunteering with us, provided that their volunteering is a positive influence on their overall well-being. Their activities may be limited to projects that do not involve face-to-face support with other eating-disordered individuals. We also intend to actively request feedback from the population that we serve, in order to ensure that our programming is successful in meeting their needs.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate among all mental illness. It is estimated that one in 10 people with anorexia will die from physical complications as a direct result of their illness. However, treatment for eating disorders is extremely expensive, often costing up to $30,000 per MONTH for inpatient treatment, and insurance companies often refuse to pay, even for some of the sickest individuals. In fact, according to the Anna Westin foundation, one in five eating disorder experts believes that insurance companies have indirectly caused at least one of their patients to die. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, only ONE-THIRD of people with anorexia in the community receive mental health care. Furthermore, only SIX percent of people with bulimia will receive mental health care.
(National Eating Disorders Association)
The Joy Project intends to accomplish the task of meeting the needs of those who wish to recover from eating disorder through a wide variety of initiatives including:
- in-person support groups
- online message board
- providing resources for family & friends of sufferers
- providing information on nutrition, medical & health concerns, basic psychology of EDs, healthy exercise habits, emotional work & healing, and the physiological complications of eating disorders
- promoting self-help programs as an alternative for patients who are denied treatment
- working for change in the manner in which eating disorders are diagnosed and treated
- continuing to lobby for additional support from insurance companies and government regulations so that more people can get adequate treatment
- work toward the establishment of recovery-supportive housing for those for whom traditional residential or partial programs are not an option
Though The Joy Project does not provide individual therapy, it does provide these key services:
- an online recovery support community where individuals from anywhere in the world can reach out for support at any time, day or night,
- various in-person support groups, and
- offerings of supportive group activities that promote a sense of confidence and well-being, such as: yoga, art classes, group meals, volunteer opportunities, information sessions, and advocacy opportunities.
Future plans include the creation of recovery-support housing, where individuals would live in an environment that encourages a life free from ED, offering tangible help for transitioning back to ‘normal’ life, while paying monthly rent costs as opposed to expensive, long-term residential care. In addition, members of The Joy Project are creating a resource manual that can be used as a self-help program for those who cannot obtain treatment by traditional means. The Joy Project plans to publish an in-depth treatment directory; collaborate with ED researchers on future research studies; and host a panel discussion event where members of the treatment, research, and survivor community will be brought together as equals to speak on topics related to ED treatment.
Please note that we do NOT provide individual therapy or diagnosis. We provide general information and peer support. Our programming is not intended to replace traditional therapy. However, many of our members have found our programming to be an invaluable tool for maintaining recovery, or for finding additional support in conjunction with participation in traditional therapy.
The Joy Project is 501(c)3 tax-exempt public charity, governed by a Board of Directors.
Interested in volunteering? Click here for more information!