Va. nonprofit that treats eating disorders sees 420% increase in demand during pandemic

A nonprofit in Rosslyn, Virginia, has seen a big increase in people seeking treatment for mental health challenges.

Since the pandemic began, Rock Recovery has experienced a 420% increase in demand for services related to eating disorders.

“We just couldn’t keep up with the demand that we were seeing,” said Christie Dondero Bettwy, the nonprofit’s executive director. “Even a year and a half in, we’re still seeing an increase.”

Isolation has been the cause of many of the challenges people are facing, and while much has changed compared to the early days of the pandemic, Bettwy said virtual programs are still playing an important role in how the group provides services, in addition to clinical services and peer support.

It’s a way of connecting that Bettwy said has allowed Rock Recovery to reach more people effectively.

“People have just been desperate for community and so thrilled to be able to connect,” she added.

Bettwy said she expects virtual programs to remain a crucial part of their treatment method, along with more of a focus on encouraging compassion within the community.

“Food is often one of the only things we can control in life. I think for a lot of people, it’s good to just have compassion that they’re doing the best they can.”

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Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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