British Columbians affected by eating disorders will benefit from expanded services, supports and more timely access to care, with an investment to help meet increased need because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government of B.C. is investing $6.6 million to increase access to virtual peer support services and enhanced eating disorder services throughout the province. This expansion of eating disorder care comes at a time when the number and severity of cases of this life-threatening illness has reached an all-time high, due to increased anxiety and social isolation caused by the pandemic.
“Eating disorders are the deadliest, yet most misunderstood mental illness,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “People suffering from eating disorders have told me their well-being and access to services has been disrupted by the pandemic. That is why we are expanding services in every health authority to ensure that more people get the help they need and deserve.”
The investment through Budget 2021 will support regional health authorities over three years in hiring more staff to expand existing eating disorder services and facilitate timely access to supports.
Budget 2021 also provides an additional $530,000 over three years to the Looking Glass Foundation for Eating Disorders to support increased access to virtual peer services for people living with an eating disorder. Virtual peer supports are critical to ensure services are available when and where people need them. The supports will help improve access and quality of care, particularly for people in rural and underserved communities. This investment complements an additional $87,000 grant from the Province that will further support the Looking Glass Foundation’s work to help people on their recovery journey.
“We are very grateful to the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions for their support and their recognition of the severity of this illness, which impacts the lives of so many British Columbians,” said Susan Climie, executive director, Looking Glass Foundation for Eating Disorders. “This funding is crucial in enabling us to strengthen our efforts towards eliminating the stigma surrounding eating disorders and providing low-barrier support to whoever needs it, when and where they need it in the province.”
This funding supports the Province’s goal of improved access, better quality and ensuring equitable access to culturally safe and effective care. This is outlined in A Pathway to Hope, B.C.’s roadmap for creating a seamless, comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care that works for everyone.
Bowinn Ma, MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale –
“From personal experience, I know that living with an eating disorder can feel like being trapped in a vicious cycle. Stigma and fear of judgment keep many people from reaching out for help, leaving them isolated to grapple with this deadly illness alone. Being able to connect with a peer who understands and has been through the same struggle can be a lifeline for those living with an eating disorder.”
Jonny Morris, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division –
“When we help families, caregivers and individuals navigate the mental-health system, we so often hear about the critical need for timely and accessible eating disorder care. This investment in treatment and peer support will bridge an important gap for people whose lives are so significantly impacted and help with getting the right care at the right time.”
Kate Grantham, peer-support volunteer, Looking Glass Foundation For Eating Disorders –
“As a Looking Glass volunteer and someone who has recovered from an eating disorder, I have experienced and witnessed how these programs change, and can even save, lives. I know first-hand how lonely, disorienting and frightening eating disorders can be, and I cannot stress enough how vital this support is.”
- Eating disorders are a serious mental-health concern that impact people regardless of gender, age, racial and ethnic identity, sexual orientation or socioeconomic background.
- Approximately 600,000 to 900,000 Canadians are diagnosed with an eating disorder each year.
- Eating disorders have the highest overall mortality rate of any mental illness, with estimates between 10-15% for anorexia nervosa and 5% for bulimia nervosa.
Looking Glass Foundation for Eating Disorders: https://www.lookingglassbc.com/
To find eating disorders services and supports, visit:
To learn more about A Pathway to Hope, visit: https://bit.ly/33HyFHy