Should You Go to Eating Disorder Treatment this Summer? Factors to Consider

By Britt Berg, M.S.

Summer has arrived. Around the nation, students, families, and teachers are enjoying long, sunny days and long-awaited summer vacations. But millions of American families are not feeling very celebratory right now. Instead of feeling excitement, these families are feeling very concerned because someone they love is battling depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, or a related issue.

These vulnerable families are facing difficult decisions right now. But there is hope — going to mental health treatment or eating disorder treatment in the summer doesn’t have to be so bleak. Treatment can provide your loved one with the education, support, and skills training they need to establish a long-term recovery.

Mental health concerns don't stop in summer

If your loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, please consider your treatment options this summer. You are not alone. Just look at how common mental health symptoms have become since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

  • Drinking, drug use, and mental health symptoms have all increased in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic [1].
  • Nearly 1 in 5 adolescents and 1 in 4 young adults reported a worsening of their mental health in 2020 [1].
  • In fall of 2020, 77% of college students acknowledged that they needed help for their emotional or mental health.
  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experienced a mental health condition in 2020 [1].
  • 1 in 20 U.S. adults experienced a serious mental health disorder in 2020 [1].
  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults is living with clinically significant anxiety [1].
  • 8% of adults are struggling with depression [1].

If there is one thing the pandemic has shown us, it is that our mental health struggles are not something to keep secret or something to be ashamed of. If you are worried about your child, a friend, or a family member struggling with their mental health, consider your available treatment options and get help.

Mental health treatment is life-saving

Millions of families are living with a loved one who is suicidal. And it’s heartbreaking. Today, tens of thousands of parents, partners, and roommates are being advised to lock up all medications and sharp objects in their homes — to keep their loved one safe. The suicide rate is rising, increasing by 35% since 1999 [1]. Males are particularly at risk, making up 78% of people who die by suicide [1]. And when it comes to young people struggling with suicidal ideation, the facts are startling.

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. for people between the ages of 10 and 34 [1].
  • 12% of adolescents between 12 and 17 had serious thoughts of ending their life in 2020 [2].
  • In 2020, 1 in 20 adolescents planned to end their life [2].
  • Over half a million adolescents in the U.S. (629,000 people) made a suicide attempt in 2020 [2].
  • LGBTQ+ youth are four times more likely to make a suicide attempt than youth who do not identify as LGBTQ+ [1].

These statistics exemplify just how important it is to help people who are hurting — before they take drastic action to hurt themselves or end their life.

Treatment provides so many benefits for individuals who are actively suicidal. In treatment, your loved one will be monitored around the clock. Objects that may cause self-harm (medications, sharp objects, etc.) will not be accessible in treatment. Instead, your loved one will have access to supportive doctors, therapists, and staff every day. Along with individual and group therapy, they will also have peer support. Through these opportunities, your loved one will learn how to manage the extreme distress that has previously led them to have suicidal thoughts.

In caring for a loved one who is suicidal, know that you’re not alone and there are those who can help. Look to the experts who can support you in keeping your child or loved one safe from harm. Consider that treatment might just be the safest place for them to be.

Eating disorder treatment in summer reduces academic stress

The pandemic has greatly disrupted life and school for Gen Z students (born from about 1997 to 2012). Almost half of all college students cited stress as negatively impacting their schoolwork in the fall of 2020. We urge parents to consider treatment during the summer as a way to avoid negative impacts on academic performance during the school year.

If you’re the parent of a child struggling with their mental health, you’ve probably noticed that their grades were negatively affected when their mental health declined. This is one reason why summer is such a beneficial time to enter treatment. First, your child won’t fall behind in class and they won’t miss any schoolwork or homework. Alternatively, if your child or college student returns to school this fall without getting the effective treatment they need, their grades might be affected further. They could fall behind; experience trouble with motivation, concentration, or focus; or even want to drop out, because high school students who experience significant signs of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out of school as their peers [1].

Struggling with anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, or other concerns is hard enough for students. If your child struggled to focus or stay motivated in school this past year, treatment may be exactly what they need to get back on track for next year.

Eating disorder treatment can reduce caregiver stress

How long has your loved one been struggling? And how has your mental health fared during this time? Having a child or loved one in crisis is incredibly stressful. Being able to rely on a treatment team of experts is one way to take this heavy weight of caregiving off your shoulders, even if it’s just for a short time.

Rather than worry about whether your loved one is being honest with you, or worrying about whether you’re making the right decisions, let the treatment team handle those concerns. Spend this time repairing your own fragmented mental health: connecting with friends, catching up on sleep, enjoying favorite hobbies, and relaxing. When your loved one returns home from treatment, you will be rested and ready to greet them.

Our approach to eating disorder treatment

By reading this article, you are showing how much you care about your child or loved one. Entering treatment is not an easy decision to make, but it is associated with better outcomes in the long run. I’ve spoken to multiple family members who expressed a sense of relief after dropping loved ones off at treatment because they knew they were leaving them in good hands.

Additionally, choosing treatment at Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center gives you the opportunity to

  • Work closely with clinical team members who are leading experts in the field of eating disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, and related issues
  • Have access to our multidisciplinary treatment teams consisting of psychiatrists, internists, psychotherapists, family clinicians, dietitians, nurses, patient care assistants, case managers, and aftercare coordinators
  • Find a variety of family education and support options to help you learn treatment strategies that work in the real world, tailored to your family’s needs

Plus, mental health treatment works. To overcome an eating disorder, mood or anxiety disorder, substance use disorder, or related issues, it is best to work with a professional team educated on the most effective medication and psychotherapy treatments. Going to treatment doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. It simply means that you have a mental health condition that can benefit from treatment, just like tens of millions of other Americans.

Mental health should be a priority, even in summer

While many families make the decision to start treatment in summer, other families worry that their child or partner will miss out on summer opportunities such as family reunions, vacations, camps, and more. However, let’s not forget that people struggling with eating disorders or mental health issues will most likely still be struggling during these events. I’ve heard people acknowledge that it was much more stressful to take that vacation with an ill family member and that they wished they had sought treatment sooner.

Family reunions and vacations can be negatively impacted when a loved one is really struggling. By encouraging your loved one to seek treatment, you are giving them permission to take time for themselves to start feeling better so that next summer they can enjoy these opportunities to the fullest.

Sometimes it seems impossible that our loved ones will every fully recover. But recovery is within reach. When we take steps to encourage the mental and emotional well-being of those we love, we can help increase positive outcomes, such as

  • Improved overall productivity
  • Improved educational performance
  • Better quality of life, including time spent with family

Entering treatment is an investment in your loved one’s health. You’re helping them gain a comprehensive education and skills training related to their mental health, self-care, wellness, nutrition, and so much more. At times, treatment truly can be lifesaving. If you are ready to support your loved one in seeking professional help, we encourage you to reach out.

Related Reading


1. National Alliance on Mental Illness: Mental Health by the Numbers. Accessed May 27, 2022. Last Updated February 2022.
2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Highlights for the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use & Health. Accessed May 27, 2022.

Written by

Britt Berg, M.S.

Britt Berg, M.S. is a highly experienced writer and editor who has worked in the behavioral health field for nearly 20 years. She holds a bachelor's degree from Emory University and a Master of…

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