People who suffer from eating disorders have a pretty raw deal.
Not only do they grapple with a condition that has the highest mortality rate among mental illnesses, they also struggle against a misperception that their illness is a lifestyle choice.
Because society perceives eating disorders as a “choice”, the people who suffer from it, along with their family members and close friends, are bereft of crucial information and support.
It is for this reason that the NEDA introduced a Live Chat feature to help its volunteers reach more people.
NEDA is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that helps individuals and families affected by eating disorders recover and thrive through increased awareness, early intervention and improved access to treatment.
Says Lauren Smolar, Helpline Manager, NEDA: “Eating disorder recovery is real, and help is available. We are seeing more people reaching out for that help earlier than before – and this is key – because of our Live Chat function.”
Smolar adds that Live Chats are a better fit for a younger demographic used to online interactions. These digital natives may shy from talking to a stranger on the phone about highly sensitive topics, such as an eating disorder.
She explains: “Live Chat enables us to talk to people about their concerns in an approachable way, and to more effectively give them the support and information that they are looking for.”
After a review of solutions available, NEDA implemented a Live Chat solution from Comm100 because it was:
Says Smolar: “It was easy to customize Comm100 and get started. That was one reason why we chose it. And whenever we had issues, Comm100 was always there to help.”
NEDA counts on its community of about 80 volunteers to staff its information and referral helpline. These volunteers are highly effective because many used to struggle with eating disorders themselves.
But they have their work cut out for them, because the scope of the challenge can be daunting.
In the United States, more than 30 million people suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. These include but are not limited to anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.
Helping such a magnitude of people meant not just increasing the number of volunteers on hand, but also extending the hours of operation and giving volunteers the option of working remotely.
Both organizational objectives were easily enabled by the remote capabilities and cross platform capabilities of the Comm100 Live Chat solution.
Explains Smolar: “Comm100 has allowed us to expand our volunteer base. We will soon have volunteers work off-site, but still supported by our two in-house supervisors who can monitor chats and give remote support.”
The ability to review and analyze transcripts meant counseling standards are kept consistently high regardless of where the volunteer was physically located.
Says Smolar: “Our Comm100 Live Chat feature is core to what we do today.
“This new generation is chatting with us more than they are calling. In fact chat is often the first point of contact, and our interactions have gone up because they do not find a chat as threatening as a call.
“We have seen our numbers totally flip, and more people are chatting than any other contact method at this point.
“So we are not just reaching more people, we are reaching them earlier. And that is crucial because early intervention makes all the difference.”