YULEE, Fla. — It’s another domino effect of the COVID-19 pandemic: eating disorders.
Health experts in Jacksonville said the number of people struggling from eating disorders is double what they’ve seen before the pandemic.
Action News Jax first showed you the startling statistics last week, and the struggles people face to get the care they need.
“If you don’t have insurance you really don’t have a great chance of getting home,” Amie Shields said. “We just don’t believe that’s ok.”
Shields is one of millions who have struggled from an eating disorder.
“Out of the 30 million people who struggle with an eating disorder, only 20% can access the level of care that they need,” Shields said. “And, only 20% of that 20% can actually stay in treatment long enough for lasting recovery. So, I was in that 20% of the 20%. I don’t know why, but I know that for the rest of my life I want to help those who aren’t.”
Shields battled Anorexia nervosa for decades, from college into motherhood.
“It was actually my two teenage children that sat me down one night, and said mom, you’re killing yourself and you’re making us watch,” Shields said. “That’s not ok.”
It took time, but she finally got the help she needed and deserved. She has been in recovery now for four years.
It was her own battle that made her want to help others with the same illness. She knows, firsthand, there just aren’t enough resources in Northeast Florida for long-term residential treatment.
“The closest residential facility here would be Tallahassee and that’s where I went,” Shields said. “The main reason that people can’t access care is because of the expense.”
Come October 2021, she hopes to house a beautiful home in Yulee with six women suffering from eating disorders. Her nonprofit, The Charis House “Bring Your Brokenness” will serve as a residential treatment facility. Shields said it will cater to any woman, no matter their financial situation.
“With six beds, three will have to have insurance,” Shields said. “We’ll have a sliding scale for the other three.”
Shields said having walked the road of recovery, she knows what’s important in the treatment process and what will make this non-profit successful for others.
“We just want it to feel safe and loving and healing,” Shields said.
Right now, Shields is working on getting the initial license with AHCA. Then, she’ll begin the hiring process, searching for several medical personnel and interns.
The home is ready to go, living wise. That’s all thanks to community members in Nassau County. Everything has been donated: furniture, books, outdoor seating, etc. People have even volunteered their labor to help get the home all together.
If you want to donate or drop off supplies, you can check their page where Shields posts needed items for the nonprofit.