Groundbreaking new program for supporters of people with eating disorders

30 Mar, 2021

InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders has today launched a new online program, ‘SupportED’, to ease the burden on carers of people living with an eating disorder and improve treatment outcomes.

Eating disorders not only impact the estimated 1.25 million Australians with the illness. They also significantly impact their loved ones, who often play a vital role in identifying symptoms, encouraging treatment and providing care and support throughout recovery.

However, psychologist and InsideOut Institute Senior Project Manager Rachel Simeone says support people are frequently not included in treatment to the level they should be.

“We know that greater involvement of support people leads to better treatment outcomes but unfortunately, the supports that they need are often not there”.

“The role of carers can be all-consuming, demanding and unrelenting. Carers often experience feelings of isolation, lack of education and support, and their own mental health concerns.”

“Recovery from an eating disorder is a long-term process, lasting on average for one to six years. The financial implications of treatment and needing to give up work to be there for your loved one can be staggering.”

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.

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.

Ms Simeone says targeted educational and practical skills-based workshops for carers have been noted to reduce carer distress and burden.6

“The research tells us specific training programs targeting families and carers have been found to be very effective.”

Free, three-month access is available for those who sign up to an evaluation study of the program.

NSW Health has partnered with InsideOut to ensure free places are provided to all carers in NSW once the study is completed.