Engaging solutions to defeat eating disorders
Program Director at Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego
Jason Hennick, L.C.S.W.
My mission is to influence anyone I can about eating disorders and the deadly impact they are having on millions of people in this country. This disease is growing in numbers and taking the lives of many gifted and amazing individuals, and destroying their families and loved ones.
Eating disorders are not about food, but feelings of low self-esteem and other difficult feelings that need to be dealt with in treatment. With treatment, there is hope to live a life free of the obsession with weight, food and body size. There is more to life than these unhealthy preoccupations that are consuming these individuals’ everyday lives. All those who call us for information about treatment give us the opportunity to reassure them that there are solutions to this complicated disease. I am very inspired by watching these adolescents heal, become healthy and learn to appreciate their own self-worth.
Removing shame and eliminating stigma
My dream is that our country will recognize the severity of this disease, along with the prevalence of this disorder in all realms of society. If we can remove the shame associated with having an eating disorder and eliminate our society’s obsession with thinness, these wonderful individuals will have a chance to live productive and satisfying lives. We need to increase funding and awareness through insurance companies so that there are more treatment facilities available with longer-term treatment. Our country can no longer ignore this growing disease. As for the individuals we will serve, our dream is that they leave here with a positive outlook, increased sense of self-worth, real coping skills and insight into what brought them here.
Recommendations for parents
So many families and loved ones are suffering in silence and in isolation. I want to instill hope and belief that recovery is possible. My recommendation to parents is to get their child with even a suspected eating disorder into treatment as soon as possible and for as long as possible, no matter what it takes. Parents of children or adolescents with eating disorders need to know that the earlier they get treatment for their children, the greater their chances of recovery. An eating disorder is a fatal disease, and treatment is more important than school or any other aspect in the life of a child who has one.
Sovereign’s Rancho San Diego eating disorders program team
The team here in Rancho San Diego takes great pride in what we do and we look forward to expanding our services to adolescents with eating disorders. Our ethic is to treat these adolescents just as we would if they were our own loved ones. We look for the positive aspects of every person and every situation and encourage solutions. We don’t play the shame-or-blame game. We put more energy into what each person is doing well and not into mistakes or setbacks. We pride ourselves on transparency, and parents have open access to what we do and how we go about it. We understand that engaging the families is an integral part of this healing process and that they are a large part of the solution.
Jason Hennick, L.C.S.W., is the program director of Sovereign Health’s adolescent program, based in Rancho San Diego, California. He received his Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Oregon and Master of Arts in social work from San Diego State University. In 1997, Hennick started working with children at Jasper Mountain Center in Oregon and has thereafter continually worked with children and adolescents in residential facilities. He has worked in a variety of capacities in residential programs with New Alternatives, Fred Finch Youth Center and San Diego Youth Services.