Eating disorders can affect people of all ages. Without professional intervention, they can be fatal. Calling an eating disorder hotline can be a helpful first step in finding treatment for someone with an eating disorder. Eating disorder helplines are a useful resource not only for patients but also for friends and family members seeking information about how to help their loved one access treatment.
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What Is an Eating Disorder Hotline?
An eating disorder hotline is a phone number that can be called to learn more about eating disorders and treatment options. Eating disorder helplines are staffed by professionals who are knowledgeable about eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Even someone who is not ready to seek treatment or is unsure if they have an eating disorder can benefit from calling an eating disorder crisis hotline. Hotlines can link people to support groups and provide information about specific symptoms.
When Should I Call an Eating Disorder Hotline?
If a medical emergency involving an eating disorder is taking place, it is best to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Some side effects of eating disorders that constitute a medical emergency include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Suspected organ failure including heart or kidney failure
- Severe dehydration
- Possible rupture of the esophagus
However, when immediate medical attention is not needed, an eating disorder 24-hour hotline can provide resources and assistance.
What Kinds of Questions Will I Be Asked?
An eating disorder helpline responder typically asks callers a series of questions to learn more about the eating disorder present, assess other high-risk behaviors and evaluate the caller’s willingness to engage in treatment.
Some commonly asked questions include:
- Can you describe the nature of the eating disorder?
- Do you use alcohol or drugs?
- Have you sought treatment for the eating disorder?
- Are you looking for treatment for the eating disorder?
Benefits of Calling an Eating Disorder Hotline
Calling an eating disorder help hotline can be a valuable way to understand more about symptoms and treatment options. Reaching out to a helpline connects people with professionals trained to provide support and information. Speak about an eating disorder without fear of judgment is often the first step in deciding to seek treatment.
Are Eating Disorder Hotlines Free?
A common concern preventing people from contacting a helpline is cost. However, these services are free. If any additional service is requested that could lead to a fee, the helpline responder should inform the caller and obtain consent.
Is My Call Confidential?
National Eating Disorder Hotlines
- The National Eating Disorder Association
The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) runs a free, confidential hotline available Monday–Thursday, 9:00 am EST – 9:00 pm EST and Friday, 9:00 am EST– 5:00 pm EST. Refer to their website for a list of holidays when the hotline is not available. NEDA also provides instant messaging and texting options.
- Call 1-800-931-2237
- Text “NEDA” to 741-741
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a helpline that can provide information and support regarding a variety of mental health concerns, including eating disorders. The helpline is available Monday–Friday, 10:00 am EST – 6:00 pm EST.
- Call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
- Text “NAMI” to 741-741
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
In the case of suicidal ideation, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours daily. The lifeline’s responders can provide valuable information on what to do in the case of suicidal ideation.
- Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Alternatives to Calling an Eating Disorder Hotline
In addition to the traditional helpline where a person calls and speaks to someone, there are other options available for those who may not feel comfortable speaking on the phone, including eating disorder hotline text programs. These programs connect people with a text responder. In most cases, all that is needed to initiate a conversation with a text hotline is sending a specific word or words to a designated number.
Another option for those who may not want to call and speak with someone over the phone is eating disorder hotline chat programs. These allow communication via instant messaging. Users will be able to chat with a trained support professional via their web browser to obtain answers to their questions and treatment referrals if desired.
The following organizations provide reputable alternatives to calling an eating disorder hotline:
The National Eating Disorder Association
- Text “NEDA” to 741-741
The National Alliance on Mental Illness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also has a text option for their confidential helpline.
- Text “NAMI” to 741-741
Eating Disorder Hotline Finder
Local Eating Disorder Hotlines
If you’re looking for a local eating disorder helpline, the following list contains resources for each state. While it is not a complete list, it can provide a starting point for finding treatment. Each state operates a 211 emergency and crisis information line that can be used to locate state resources. Below are designated crisis lines for each state run by The National Suicide Prevention LifeLine. The LifeLine and its state affiliates accept calls for all types of crises including concerns about eating disorders. These crisis centers assist individuals with mental health concerns and substance abuse issues.
- Browse Local Hotlines By State
District of Columbia (DC)
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, national and state resources and treatment are available. If you’re struggling with an eating disorder in addition to a substance use disorder, contact The Recovery Village at 352.771.2700 to learn more about treatment for substance use and co-occurring disorders.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Top 25 HelpLine Resources.” (n.d.) Accessed March 11, 2019.
National Eating Disorder Association. “Help and Support.” (n.d.) Accessed March 11, 2019.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. “Our Crisis Centers.” (n.d.) Accessed March 11, 2019.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Find Treatment.” (n.d.) Accessed March 11, 2019.
- Medical Disclaimer
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.