Take the first step towards better health

Eating Disorders

Treating an eating disorder must not be put off. Eating Disorders are serious medical conditions, which can be fatal, so it's essential to get a diagnosis and start treatment as soon as possible. 

Research shows that early intervention gives you a better chance of recovery. If you think your child or loved one has an eating disorder, it's important to seek help straight away. 

Here's what you need to do - and what you can expect:

Visit your GP

Your GP is the first port of call - your GP can refer you for treatment to the eating disorder service provided by the DHB in your area. They will also be able to monitor the patient regularly to assess any changes while you are waiting to get into the specialist service. Patients who are restricting, binging or purging can deteriorate very quickly and may be very ill even if they do not appear to be underweight, so it's essential to keep a close eye on them. 
If your GP dismisses your concerns, get a second opinion. 

Get a referral to the DHB Community Mental Health Services in your area.

Your local Community Mental Health Service is responsible for ensuring you receive specialist eating disorder treatment in your area. Treatment will depend on the severity of the person's illness, their age, and the options available near you. 


You may wish to see a private therapist and/or dietician as well. Here are some things you may wish to think about when considering private treatment:

  • Location, and provision of face to face consultations and/or via video meetings which allows people to see a therapist wherever they are. Some therapists may provide a combination of both. 
  • Training and background and experience treating eating disorders.
  • Your budget.
  • Whether they are a good fit. Some therapists provide a free initial consultation or phone call to allow people to see if they have a good rapport, and you may also have questions you wish to ask.

Your role in recovery

Until recently, many parents and families felt blamed when their loved ones developed an eating disorder. Fortunately, research has shown that upbringing has very little to do with the disease, and that parents, carers and other family members are an integral part of the treatment team. 
As a parent, caregiver, or a loved one of a person with an eating disorder, you have an important role to play whether they are a child, adolescent, young adult or older. The process of recovery is likely to be challenging, so they'll need unconditional love and compassionate support from those around them. 
We recommend that parents and caregivers become part of the treatment team, or find a way to remain in regular communication with doctors and therapists throughout the treatment process.

Find out more about what you can do to help here.