McCann Launches Nonprofit Eating Disorders AssociationMarch 28th, 2018

Teri Hardister McCann, founder and executive director of Fairhaven Treatment Center for Eating Disorders, has launched the Mid-South Eating Disorders Association, a nonprofit organization for treatment providers seeking to build community, access educational opportunities, and build awareness of treatment options for eating disorders. McCann serves as the founding president of MSEDA.

At Fairhaven, McCann provides clinical and managerial supervision for a 13-bed residential treatment center and outpatient facility for adult and adolescent females with an eating disorders diagnosis, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

Hometown: Cordova (but I live in Germantown)

Experience: McCann earned her Ph.D. in social psychology from Kansas State University and master’s in counseling from Mississippi State University. While at Kansas State University, Teri completed her dissertation in Children’s Food Cognitions, identifying early signs of disordered eating behaviors in adolescent males and females.

McCann’s work experience includes private practice work with adolescent and adult populations with eating disorder diagnoses, emotional trauma and related comorbidities. She has served as a director of eating disorder programs, ultimately leading to founding her own treatment facility dedicated to women with symptoms of eating disorders and complex trauma. In 2014, McCann opened Fairhaven Treatment Center for Eating Disorders, the Mid-South’s only residential and outpatient treatment facility specializing in the treatment of eating disorders.

What is the purpose of the Mid-South Eating Disorders Association? The MSEDA mission is to empower the treatment community of the Mid-South by providing networking opportunities, education, awareness and access to resources to address the needs of patients, clients, students and families struggling with eating disorders and related conditions.

What was the impetus for starting the organization? Eating disorders are underdiagnosed and undertreated in most communities, including the Mid-South. Many people – including treatment professionals – often consider an eating disorder to be a lifestyle decision or a relatively benign condition that can be managed with a low level of intervention. Those treatment professionals that take on the treatment of this complex, chronic and deadly disease often feel alone in the treatment community, due to the lack of resources that are available or knowledge of other treatment professionals that can collaborate to build an adequate treatment approach.

MSEDA is intended to be that organization that treatment professionals – doctors, nurses, dietitians, behavioral health professionals, school counselors, dentists, physical therapists and more – can network to build collaborative treatment approaches for a disease that requires a multidisciplinary treatment approach.

You’ve mentioned eating disorders are a complex condition. How can an interdisciplinary approach help treat those struggling with EDs? The notion of an “eating disorder” being a deadly disease is often hard to conceptualize. In fact, the mortality rate for people with eating disorders is the highest of all psychiatric illnesses, and over 12 times higher than that for people without eating disorders (Smink, F.E., van Hoeken, D., & Hoek, H.W. (2012). Epidemiology of eating disorders: Incidence, prevalence and mortality rates. Current Psychiatry Reports, 14(4), 406-414.).

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends evidence-based treatment from a coordinated treatment team that specializes in eating disorders treatment and incudes these interventions: medical stabilization, nutritional rehabilitation, pharmacotherapy and psychosocial treatment.

What’s one thing you wish the public better understood about eating disorders? Many people consider an eating disorder to be a lifestyle decision or a choice. While there can be those that have symptoms of “disordered eating,” and these symptoms should be addressed, a true eating disorder is a very serious behavioral and medical condition that can have long-term implications that can include irreversible end-organ damage and complications that can lead to premature death.

If someone reading this is struggling with an ED, or perhaps has a friend or family member who is, where can they find resources to get help? The good news is that there are several organizations across the country that provide professional and comprehensive treatment advice for eating disorders. The National Association for Eating Disorders (nationaleatingdisorders.org) is a consumer-oriented website that provides education and guidance on seeking treatment for yourself or helping someone you care for that is exhibiting symptoms of an eating disorder. The Alliance for Eating Disorders (allianceforeatingdisorders.com/portal) provides a comprehensive tool for treatment options across the U.S. for all types of patients that are seeking treatment interventions, including males, adolescents and the transgender patient.

Fairhaven Treatment Center is also a resource for treatment providers and families in the Mid-South. As part of our mission, if we are not the right place for you, we are well-networked in the national treatment community and can help you find services either in the Mid-South or across the country.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? By far my greatest accomplishment is taking part in molding and developing my three wonderful children into the curious, compassionate and courageous adults they are today. After that, I am proud of my contribution to the Mid-South community in bringing a comprehensive and unique treatment program to a part of the country that has a significant unmet need for a complex and often misunderstood disease.

What do you most enjoy about your work? I love my clients. Every day I look forward to interacting with them, seeing their recovery and helping them face their challenges. The more tedious part of my role is the administrative duties and the responsibility of owning and running a business. But group therapy and individual time with my clients is truly my life’s purpose and the place where I feel most connected to my best self.

If you could give one piece of advice to young people, what would it be? My own children would tell you that I could never limit myself to one piece of advice. That being said, I encourage young people to celebrate being their own unique self. Young people have worth for who they are as individuals, not what they accomplish or how they perform, but for the unique characteristics only they possess. That fact is important to remember in a world filled with pressure to conform to others’ expectations.


The Mid-South Eating Disorders Association has also named its board of directors. McCann is founding president. Dr. Michelle Bowden, an adolescent medicine physician at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, is MSEDA’s vice president. Angie Wallick, a registered dietician and a nutrition therapist with Memphis Nutrition Group, is secretary. And Kristen Hoover, program manager at Fairhaven Treatment Center for Eating Disorders and a national certified counselor, is treasurer.

This article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.

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