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Understand the causes and symptoms of eating disorders, whether your loved one is suffering from anorexia, bulimia or another form of eating disorder.
Most people find helping their loved one on their recovery journey challenging. Many people say it is the hardest thing they have ever done. Becoming informed about EDs and connecting...
Eating disorders are multi-faceted and complex to treat, but full recovery is possible at any stage.
If you believe your child or loved one is suffering from and eating disorder, visit your GP immediately and ask for a referral to an Eating Disorder specialist service. Click below for more ways we can help you.
EDANZ is run by parents, caregivers, and people who have fully recovered from eating disorders. Although we don't have medical qualifications, we've experienced the challenges of eating disorders in real life.
We offer support, help and resources to people caring for loved ones with an eating disorder, but we are not able to offer treatment or medical advice for patients themselves. If you have, or are concerned you have an eating disorder, we urge you to visit your GP. Click here for advice on speaking to your GP for the first time.
If you're worried your child or loved one may have an eating disorder, there is a useful online tool to highlight common warning signs (see below). If you have any concerns, see your GP immediately. Read more »
The Feed Your Instinct (FYI) interactive tool is designed to support parents of children and young people experiencing different types of eating and/or body image problems. EDANZ recommend completing the checklist as it will clearly identify your areas of concern and aid you as you make a decision about how to act on these concerns. It is not safe to ‘watch and wait’ with possible eating disorders in a young person. The FYI checklist once completed will generate a separate printable summary for you to take to your family doctor/GP to help communicate your concerns. (NOTE: The Medical “Pathway” procedures are as implemented in Australia; The New Zealand “Pathway” may vary.)
F.E.A.S.T. has launched a fabulous new service call the First 30 Days – “designed to transform parents into empowered carers in 30 days”.
The goal of the programme is to change the course of a family’s caregiving journey in just 30 days through a series of daily 30 minute sessions that focus on what parents need to know, both about eating disorders and about providing effective support in recovery. The educational resources offered include written, video and audio content from F.E.A.S.T. and other trusted sources. In keeping with F.E.A.S.T.’s focus on parent support, participants have the option of contacting F.E.A.S.T.’s support team via live chat, email and phone so you can ask any questions that arise during each session.
The service is free, and you can start at any time and use it at any stage in your family’s journey. You can follow the 30 days service by doing one lesson a day, skipping forward, or all at once: whatever works for you.
"Thanks very much for what I can only describe as a potentially life changing and life saving online day of education and encouragement."
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Record numbers of young people seeking help for eating disorders has services at breaking point with clinicians and health experts meeting today to discuss the unfolding crisis.
Eating Disorders Association of New Zealand (EDANZ) has organised a Hui in partnership with The Werry Centre, the national centre for infant, child and adolescent mental health. Attending will be representatives from the country’s district health boards, phycologists, counsellors, volunteers and sector experts to discuss the “massive increase” in clients, which has put a major strain on already stretched services.
Nicki Wilson, chairwoman of EDANZ, says services cannot meet demand with children as young as age eight having to wait weeks, sometimes months, to be seen for life-threatening eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa.
EDANZ is calling for a sector-led specialist panel, supported by government, to look at what can be done to provide better support. “Eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia are treatable illnesses – people can get better quite quickly if they are treated early enough, but that’s just not happening.”
Due to long waits nationwide, it’s common for a condition to deteriorate, including life-threatening illnesses like anorexia. “People of all ages have ended up being hospitalised for refeeding while they wait for access to an eating disorder service,” Ms Wilson says.
The mortality rate for people with eating disorders is one of the highest of all psychiatric illnesses. EDANZ has been contacted by families caring for loved ones of all genders, ages, and across all socio-economic and cultural groups, all desperately trying to access treatment.
“DHB clinicians have reported a big increase in paediatric treatment for eating disorders, and this year it has been harder to access treatment than ever before,” Ms Wilson says. “One specialist told me their DHB had more than doubled its paediatric inpatient caseload this past year alone, on the back of already significant increases in previous years.”
EDANZ, who run nationwide support groups and a telephone and email support service, says callers to their 0800 number are four times higher this year, while clinicians in the private sector have reported a nearly triple increase in referral rates.
Dr Marion Roberts, who runs a private treatment clinic in Auckland, says demand has increased by four times since April this year. “There are always multiple factors leading to eating disorders. The likes of COVID have definitely added to it, particularly for our teen clients.”
EDANZ volunteer Kelly Mahuika, agrees that COVID seems to have exacerbated the situation. This could be due to greater awareness with families spending more time together, along with the stress itself caused by the pandemic, she says.
“We have parents absolutely desperate for help. We’re hearing of more and more parents taking their children to emergency departments to seek help. I’ve had parents call saying their child has passed out from malnutrition and they don’t know where to turn to for help.”
EDANZ says eating disorder treatment services span the health system, making them fragmented and disjointed. “DHBs run their services differently. Also within each DHB eating disorder treatments cross over into different areas such as mental health, community based treatment and hospital level care.
“There is no single point of view, and worryingly very little data collection,” Ms Wilson says. “We are grateful for the work of the DHB’s, but we must continue collaborating to improve treatment services.”
Other challenges that EDANZ and Hui attendees say they face include a workforce shortage of specialists with eating disorder training. EDANZ would like GPs upskilled so they can more easily identify cases early on and treat patients more proactively in the community whilst they await specialist care.
Dr Roberts, who trains clinicians in treating eating disorders, says urgent action is needed. “The availability of clinicians skilled and experienced to provide evidence based eating disorder treatment is drastically below what is needed to meet the demand,” she says.
EDANZ are committed to providing clinicians and families with support to improve access to treatment and to achieve better outcomes for individuals battling these curable illnesses – full recovery is possible at any age and any stage.
Please note, this hui is a private event and is not open to media. However experts, clinicians and families are available to provide comment. See below.
WHERE TO GET HELP FOR EATING DISORDERS:
Massey University postgraduate student researcher, Ilinka Nikolova is conducting a research project in collaboration with her supervisor, Dr Andrea LaMarre. The objective is to gain insight into NZ women's experiences of using Instagram while in eating disorder recovery.
Student Researcher: Ilinka Nikolova
Supervisor: Andrea LaMarre
A new worldwide study involving more than 100 researchers has proved that genetics contributes to anorexia nervosa and found a strong metabolic component to the illness.
The study which collected samples from nearly 17,000 people around the world who have had anorexia nervosa, including hundreds from New Zealand, and compared it to more than 55,000 people who haven’t ever had the illness, found that there were eight genetic variants associated with anorexia nervosa.
Nicki Wilson, EDANZ chair says it is incredibly helpful for patients and families to know that there is a biological basis for anorexia nervosa and to have a new explanatory framework to understand the illness.