30 May, 2022
World Eating Disorders Action Day is a global, grass-roots movement to create awareness, decrease stigma, advocate for evidence-based treatments and advance understanding of eating disorders as treatable illnesses.
InsideOut Institute Director, Associate Professor Sarah Maguire says this year's theme ‘Caring for Carers’ is an opportunity to raise the profile of those who support individuals with an eating disorder and highlight the essential role they play in treatment.
“Eating disorders not only impact an estimated 70 million people globally and have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, they also significantly impact their loved ones,” said Associate Professor Maguire.
“Support people play a key role in identifying symptoms, encouraging treatment and providing care and support throughout recovery. Having good support can result in decreased severity and length of illness for the person with the eating disorder.”
“For any person struggling with an illness, the care and support provided by their loved ones is fundamental. For eating disorders, which are both complex medical and mental health conditions, this is doubly so.”
InsideOut Institute Lived Experience Lead Bronny Carroll, who has supported her adult daughter for over 20 years, says this year's World Eating Disorders Action Day theme acknowledges that caring for a loved one with an eating disorder can be an incredibly challenging role.
“Until recently, the impact of eating disorders on families has remained in the background. Now thank goodness we have a platform – we can speak about how it is.”
“We’ve worked hard to raise awareness and ensure carers are a respected and much valued part of a treatment team. It’s been a long hard road but finally our part in this harrowing mental and physical illness is being well and truly heard, valued and respected. We’re no longer invisible.”
“As carers, we often experience feelings of isolation and burn-out and need to feel equipped with adequate information and strategies to provide support to our loved ones and to maintain our own wellbeing. That’s why InsideOut Institute has created a range of resources specifically to support carers.”
‘SupportED’ is an online program to ease the burden on carers of people living with an eating disorder and improve treatment outcomes.
Over five modules, ‘SupportED’ provides users with information about available resources and treatment options, plus practical skills - like how to provide support around mealtimes, strategies for avoiding and responding to conflict, and how to care for your own physical and mental health needs.
Free, three-month access is available for those who sign up to an evaluation study of the program.
InsideOut Institute fact sheets can help carers navigate difficult conversations with their loved ones, keep them motivated throughout recovery and importantly, to look after themselves and avoid burnout.
Carers spend 12.4 hours per week looking after people with an eating disorder with the opportunity cost of lost wages estimated to exceed $10 million a year. Most carers - many of whom must take time off work or quit their jobs to care for their loved one - experience financial hardship.
You can find out more about World Eating Disorders Action Day, and how to get involved here.