Ozark Center Utilizes Team Approach to Eating Disorder Treatment

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week February 22 to 28

Image Credit: Freeman Health System

(Neosho, MO) Every Body Has a Seat at the Table is the theme of this year’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness). It is a time to shine a spotlight on eating disorders by educating the public, spreading a message of hope, and putting life-saving resources into the hands in need.

“Eating disorders are not a choice — they are dangerous and devastating illnesses. Someone does not choose to have an eating disorder any more than they would choose to have cancer,” said Hope Spring psychologist Dr. Jenny Copeland. “The root of eating disorders begin in biology and genetics. They grow in a culture that assigns a higher value to certain bodies and, inevitably, considers someone not good enough.” 

Ozark Center, an entity of Freeman Health System, was the first Certified Community Behavioral Health Organization (CCBHO) in Missouri to offer an eating disorders program and is presently one of just two programs available to Missouri residents.

“Eating Disorders Awareness Week presents an opportunity to practice avoiding language that emphasizes body size and shape,” says Vicky Mieseler, Ozark Center Chief Administrative Officer. “This week, try focusing on positive qualities in others that don’t relate to appearance. Compliment people for their talent, intelligence, kindness, and other traits.”

The Ozark Center Reconnect Eating Disorders program includes the patient, a psychologist or therapist, registered dietician, psychiatric provider, primary care physician, medical support, and Reconnect coach.

“We work together as a team to make sure that we are wrapping patients in support as they work towards recovery,” said Dr. Copeland. “Our team is always in direct communication — rain, snow, or sunshine — collaborating and making sure we engage every aspect of treatment to help patients find a life worth living and sharing.” 

This National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, we invite Every Body to Have a Seat at the Table. In a field where marginalized communities continue to be underrepresented, we welcome conversations on raising awareness, challenging systemic biases, and sharing stories from all backgrounds and experiences.

“The media teaches we must be thin and young to be considered beautiful,” said Karen Vandiver of Ozark Center Healthcare Home. “Life happens at the same time, bringing events that may trigger an eating disorder, from traumatic events to medical emergencies to bullying. We know eating disorders often occur alongside depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, alcohol and substance use, or other mental illness.”

“Recovery from an eating disorder is a difficult roller coaster, but it is possible,” said Reconnect Coach Aaron Dorland. “Remember this — with effective treatment, 60% of those with eating disorders reach full recovery.” 

About Freeman Health System

Locally owned, not-for-profit and nationally recognized, Freeman Health System includes Freeman Hospital West, Freeman Hospital East, Freeman Neosho Hospital and Ozark Center – the area’s largest provider of behavioral health services – as well as two urgent care clinics, dozens of physician clinics and a variety of specialty services. In 2020, Freeman earned dozens of individual awards for medical excellence and patient safety from CareChex®, a quality rating system that helps consumers evaluate healthcare providers. U.S. News & World Report named Freeman Health System the Best Hospital in Southwest Missouri for 2020-2021. With more than 320 physicians on staff representing more than 80 specialties, Freeman provides cancer care, heart care, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedics, children’s services and women’s services. Additionally, Freeman is the only Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in a 70-mile radius. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com.

About Ozark Center: 

Ozark Center is based in Joplin, Missouri and has been an entity of Freeman Health System since 1996. It has been providing comprehensive behavioral health services to children, adults and families since 1965 in an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from the Four States. Ozark Center continually looks for innovative ways to address the behavioral health needs of the community and promote awareness of behavioral health issues in an effort to eliminate the discrimination associated with it. For more information, visit ozarkcenter.com or call 417.347.7600.


Lisa Olliges, Freeman Health System
Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator

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