The Ginger Doyel Honorary AIM Grant
On December 28, 2018, Ginger Doyel died at 39 years old. Since 18 she had struggled with an eating disorder. Many of us knew Ginger as the young blonde woman who excessively walked around Carmel and Pebble Beach. Her short blonde hair, emaciated frame, and determination to move constantly disguised the Ginger who once was valedictorian of her college, who started the women’s golf team at the University of Richmond and actively volunteered for The First Tee, who was an accomplished artist commissioned by the PGA to paint golf scenes for its headquarters, who penned several books, and who was “a true lady from a different era” to everyone who had the fortune to meet her.
I tried to persuade Ginger to seek treatment, but her resistance was fierce. Dr. Walter Kaye at UCSD told me, “just get her here and we will help her” making an exception to their long wait-list for treatment. But the thought of having to break her routines, to address her obsessive compulsive disorder, was excruciating for her.
Today, the number of our young people suffering with adverse mental health conditions is at critical levels, with eating disorders being at the forefront. Current waitlists for evaluation and treatment ranges from 6-18 months or longer. Stanford has a 9 month wait-list.
To address this crisis, AIM established the AIM Beyond COVID Research Fund, supporting studies to take treatment virtual to provide help to more families. Because of the generosity of our donors, we are now funding a collaborative eating disorder study, led by two of the foremost authorities in the field, Dr. Walter Kaye at UCSD and Dr. Jim Lock at Stanford. “COVID has made it much more difficult for those with eating disorders to find treatment” says Dr. Kaye. ” The intent of this proposal is to extend our evidence-based treatments using telemedicine to people in their homes. Moreover, we are incorporating new approaches that may result in more successful outcomes.”
Like Ginger, many young people are resistant to physically going to a facility or doctor’s office for treatment. But by going virtual, more children are accepting help. According to AIM’s Scientific Advisory Board member and researcher, Dr. Barbara Cornblatt, dropouts have always plagued interventions with high-risk adolescents….but in one study she saw a 0% dropout in the virtual group intervention.
Virtual treatments are the new normal. We need not only to increase the overall clinical workforce to treat youth with mental health challenges, but also provide immediate help for those waiting for care. We can do this through flexibility, ingenuity and innovation in our research and treatments. AIM will support the research needed to turn these in-the-moment innovative approaches into enduring improvements to youth mental health care and outcomes BEYOND COVID through our AIM Beyond COVID Fund. Support the fund and support innovative mental health research here.