The Power of Family Mentorship: The Power of YOU
Black-and-white photo of a mom hugging her young son

JD is Equip's Director of Mentorship. She is an educator turned Family Mentor whose youngest child developed anorexia in 2012; they received cutting edge, evidence-based treatment at UC San Diego, igniting JD’s passion to ensure all families have access to evidence-based care. She became active in online family support communities, writing, and began attending and speaking at conferences. She is a board member for FEAST.

I credit UC San Diego Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research, including their use of family mentorship as part of care, with saving my daughter’s life and enabling our family to emerge from the terrifying darkness of an eating disorder—and to walk into the light of recovery even stronger as individuals and a family. Multi-family groups were invaluable in normalizing the experience, learning (then teaching) the tricks of the trade, and forming strong bonds we’ve relied on in the years since then. Likewise our children were able to process, share, and receive support with their peers in the program. Patients and families participate in a variety of groups and involve siblings. My daughter has maintained her recovery for over ten years-as well as some friendships from that time and they have been positive influences; it’s beautiful to see..

Anorexia nervosa became central to my life in 2012, when my youngest daughter became suddenly and dangerously ill. I could never have predicted where this journey would take her, our family, and my career. In fact, I wouldn’t have been able to predict a single thing, so overwhelmed and terrified was I. As a San Diego family with good insurance, we were also lucky our pediatrician was extremely knowledgeable about eating disorders and insisted we access gold standard, evidence-based FBT through UCSD. She advocated for Aetna to cover it via a single case agreement. Our almost immediate access to excellent treatment is very unusual; the eating disorder field widely practices outdated treatment, with a 17-year delay utilizing the latest research. . This gap between research and treatment is why families in the eating disorder community have long acted as first responders and envelop worried newcomers with information, support, wisdom and caring immediately from the first contact. We fill in gaps in professional access and knowledge that are sometimes more akin to chasms. Equip is professionalizing the labor of supporters who have done this work, unpaid, by Facebook post, by forum, by email, by phone, by Zoom, in person, and across the globe.

Equip includes Family and Peer Mentors as core Equip Treatment Team members, alongside medical practitioners, dietitians, and therapists. The (evidence-based) inclusion of mentors in FBT is transformative. If you are a person who has helped your loved one battle an eating disorder, you are already an Expert by Experience. Equip training, support and supervision give you the tools to take what you have been through and use it as the basis to become an effective, professional mentor. At Equip, we value all your experiences in all aspects of your life, and building a diverse, inclusive provider team is a priority. We have no educational requirement for mentors; it is your ability to connect with others, to be trained and coached, and your belief in our mission and alignment with our values, that matter. It is a passion for recovery that drives us and that we want to drive you.

Interested in helping other families recover from eating disorders? Equip is seeking peer and family mentors.

What does work as a mentor for Equip look like?

  • You are paid a salary (rather than hourly) wage with generous benefits.
  • You work from home with technology we supply you (including an allowance for workspace function and comfort.)
  • You will complete comprehensive training before meeting with families, and get to know your team members.
  • You will see patients/families via our HIPAA-compliant portant and participate in planning, and support execution of, the treatment plan.
  • Your insights and expertise will be valued as you work collaboratively with the MD, Psychiatrist, Registered Dietitian, Therapist and the Peer Mentor.
  • An added bonus is the ability to have input on research directions as Equip begins to analyze and share valuable data.

If you have already been considering this work, or if this idea is new to you, please think about applying to become part of our pipeline of Family Mentors—the work is fulfilling, the company culture is incredible, and the work-life balance of a remote job is a huge plus. Being a pioneer in this field and impacting so many recoveries is not something I imagined eight years ago, and here we are. It, and Equip, is a great place to be—join me?

JD Ouellette
Director, Lived Experience
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