A trained team is on standby at Wodonga ready to deliver free treatment to people seeking help with an eating disorder.
Researchers at La Trobe University and Eating Disorders Victoria are recruiting participants for a program offering community-based treatment to people with mild to moderate eating disorders.
The study will examine the effectiveness of providing cognitive behaviour therapy and guided self-help in a rural and regional setting, explains clinical and health psychologist Professor Leah Brennan.
The hope is if the pilot study works, it could be rolled out on a larger scale to tackle this escalating health crisis in communities.
Professor Brennan sees the study as a step to addressing the gap in services to treat people with eating disorders locally as well as provide specialist training to future clinicians.
She says one of the saddest aspects of the current crisis is that many people with an eating disorder do not seek help.
"Only about 19 to 36 per cent of individuals with eating disorders receive treatment," she points out.
"And of those who do get help, only 35 to 40 per cent receive evidence-based treatment - and often that treatment is a long time coming.
"It's not unusual for people to have had an eating disorder for 20 years before receiving treatment."
But the most devastating aspect to the crisis, according to Professor Brennan, is that there are cost-effective, evidence based interventions that can effectively treat 65 to 70 per cent of people.
They just aren't readily available in our communities.
OUR EATING DISORDER CRISIS:
The problem is compounded by the fact many people with an eating disorder don't realise they have one, according to Professor Brennan.
"Unfortunately so many people in the community have disordered eating ... and body image dissatisfaction is so common, it can seem like the norm," she adds.
Some of the signs that you may have disordered eating include:
- Concerns about eating, weight and shape that are preoccupying and/or impact day-to-day life;
- Anxiety about food, dieting, weight, shape;
- Dieting and disordered eating, for example fasting, skipping meals, eliminating food groups (without medical reason);
- Rigid rules about food, rules impacting day-to-day life, anxiety about breaking rules;
- Feeling a sense of loss of control over eating;
- Attempts to get rid of food eating, for example vomiting or laxative use;
- Compulsive exercise (exercising even when it is not advisable, becoming distressed if exercise is not possible); and
- Fluctuations in weight.
The study, which officially began on Thursday, August 31, will be overseen by senior psychologist Kim Haebich, renowned on the Border for her experience in treating people with eating disorders.
There is some eligibility criteria that applies "to enable us to offer treatment to those who are most likely to be able to benefit from community based treatment".
- To find out more or to fill out the pre-screening questions for the study, go to tinyurl.com/ed10screen or phone (02) 6024 9743.