Dr. Jennifer Moran is an outpatient psychologist at The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt (CED), a program that has been a national leader for close to 30 years. We sat down with her to discuss how eating disorders impact minority populations.

GettyImages_172601383.jpgTell us a bit about the work you do at the Center for Eating Disorders.

I’m a psychologist and have been a member of the team at CED since 2005. I’m an outpatient therapist for individuals and families, and I work with children, adolescents, and adults. I also consult and do outreach with colleges in the area, and help them brainstorm solutions for any problems they may be experiencing on campus.

In addition to that, I run collaborative care workshops. These workshops are focused on caregivers, such as parents, spouses, and siblings. I educate them about the eating disorder recovery process, and provide them with tools for working through that process with their loved one.

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Tell us a bit about how eating disorders impact minority populations.

We know that marginalized groups have increased vulnerability to developing eating disorders. Eating disorders can serve as a type of coping...

The Native American/Alaska Native community has among the highest mental illness rates in the U.S., and yet they remain one of the most underserved populations. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 28.3% of Native American adults are living with a mental illness. 

native_american_mental_health.jpegProminent issues within the community include higher rates of PTSD and higher rates of substance use (beginning at an earlier age) than the general population. Heavy alcohol use and binge alcohol use rates are higher than the general population’s. Native Americans also exhibit psychological distress 1.5 times more than the rest of the population. For some Native American communities, suicide rates have risen to alarming levels. The overall suicide rate is higher than any other ethnicity: 34.3 male and 9.9 female deaths per 100,000 people.

Several factors too often preclude Native Americans’ access to mental health care:

Lack of insurance and poverty. For some Native American communities, economic hardship prevents access to treatment. The rate of uninsurance in many communities is higher than that in white communities — 33% of Native Americans are without health insurance while 11% of the white...

When rapper Jay-Z referenced his therapist in his newest album, “4:44,” it gave hope to many in the black community: “My therapist said I relapsed” is a line from his song “Smile.” Because mental illness has historically been a taboo topic for the community, that line gave important visibility to the issue: African Americans have mental health needs, too.

young_man.jpgAccording to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 18.6% of black adults have a mental illness and are 20% more likely to experience severe mental illness than the rest of the population. Factors such as homelessness and exposure to violence increase the prevalence of mental illness in the black community — who comprise 40% of the homeless population and are more likely to experience violence than other groups. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The black community faces systemic problems in accessing care for mental illness. These problems are rooted in historical, cultural, and societal bedrocks, and can affect African Americans’ ability to receive treatment. Below are some of the central issues: 

Stigma from inside and outside the community. One perception both...

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, which aims to bring attention to mental health issues in minority communities and the unique challenges each community faces. Individuals of each minority group encounter different stigmas, barriers to access, and other problems when it comes to mental health; it is important to recognize these differences. Doing so is the only way to address these obstacles and start the conversation on mental health.


The prevalence of mental illness among different races is relatively similar, and yet there are large discrepancies in access to and receipt of treatment. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports the following statistics: 16.3% of Hispanic adults, 18.6% of black adults, 13.9% of Asian adults, and 28.3% of American Indian/Alaska Native adults are living with a mental health condition, in comparison with the 19.3% of white adults who do. And, among adults with mental health needs, some minority groups are only half as likely to have seen a health professional in the last year as white adults.

And yet only a portion of those reporting mental illness also report receiving treatment. The percentages of each minority group...

summer_structure_2.jpegSummer. For most kids and parents, it is a time for laying by the pool, staying up late and sleeping even later, and wandering the neighborhood. Most people love summer time. However, for parents of children with anxiety, ADHD, autism, or other mental illness, summer can be a hectic time. 

Many of these children need structure. They thrive on it. They like knowing what to expect, what comes next, and they need a set schedule. The “lazy days of summer” are great for many kids. But for our kids, these long days can be chaotic and anxious. 

Getting out of routine, getting less sleep, and not knowing what to expect each day can create challenging behaviors for a child with special needs. For this reason, it is important to maintain a sense of structure in the summer and during vacations. It may not be easy, but there are ways that you can make the summer less stressful. 

Here are some tips:

  1. Maintain a routine. Once school ends, kids want to stay up late and sleep in, especially older kids and teens. As a parent, you want to give them some freedom, but if your child struggles when without their routine, it may be best to minimize disruptions. For this reason, try and keep their...

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