Millions for residential eating disorder treatment centres

Evelyn Lewin

2/04/2019 2:53:46 PM

The Federal Government has pledged $70.2 million for the establishment of six residential centres around Australia.

Woman sitting
Dr Elizabeth Crouch is pleased the Government is recognising eating disorders are a ‘serious medical problem’.

‘It’s fantastic that [the Government is] actually recognising this as a serious medical problem.’
That is Dr Elizabeth Crouch, a GP with a special interest in eating disorders, discussing the Government’s $70.2 million pledge towards treating eating disorders.
Of the funding, $63 million is allocated to establishing six residential treatment centres across Australia, with centres in Western Australia and the ACT having already been announced.
Dr Crouch welcomes this move.
‘The problem is, the models of care we have are usually acute medical wards or psychiatric hospitals, and sometimes neither one nor the other is the appropriate place for people to go,’ she told newsGP.
‘So to have an actual dedicated inpatient [facility] which encompasses the physical and the psychiatric aspect of eating disorders will be really much better for people’s care.’
The funding includes $3.6 million for the Butterfly Foundation, which is ‘dedicated to bringing about change to the culture, policy and practice in the prevention, treatment and support’ of people living with an eating disorder.
The new funds will help establish and guide the creation of the residential centres to ensure they provide specialist care through best practice inpatient treatment programs.
A further $3.6 million is designed to enable the National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC) to advance the way eating disorders are diagnosed and treated, provide 24–7 intensive care and support, and deliver further training, education and advocacy.
Dr Crouch said this funding is imperative, as young people in particular often fail to diagnose themselves as having an eating disorder.
‘The work the Butterfly Foundation and the NDEC do in providing information, education and support to people who work with young people, particularly to identify those [with eating disorders], is going to be really, really useful,’ Dr Crouch said.
In making the funding announcement, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt raised his concerns regarding the number of people with eating disorders who have not received a diagnosis.
‘Many suffer in silence, with only 25% of people with eating disorders thought to be diagnosed,’ he said.
According to the NEDC, eating disorders and disordered eating are together estimated to affect more than 16% of the Australian population. Many people with an eating disorder also present with at least one other lifetime psychiatric disorder.
While anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa each occur in less than 1% of the population, the NEDC reports that the mortality rate is five times higher in people with anorexia nervosa when compared to the general population.
Furthermore, those with bulimia nervosa are 50% more likely to die prematurely compared to those in the general population.
The Butterfly Foundation also reports that people with an eating disorder are up to 31 times more likely to die by suicide.

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