August 31st 2022
Eating Disorders Victoria (EDV) is calling on the Victorian Government to take meaningful action on binge eating disorder (BED) as it maps out a state-wide eating disorder strategy alongside ongoing mental health reform. BED is the most prevalent eating disorder affecting Victorians, accounting for 47%, or 133,000, of the states increasing eating disorder cases. Despite the prevalence, only 25% of people with BED will seek help. Left untreated, BED can cause severe psychological, physical, social and economic distress.
EDV CEO Belinda Caldwell is urging the Government to make BED a priority area as work begins on the Victorian Eating Disorder Strategy.
“People with binge eating disorder don’t feel ‘seen’ in our eating disorder treatment system, let alone our broader mental health system. The fact that there are so few pathways for BED specific support in our public health system shows that this diagnosis has been largely forgotten. This is despite us knowing that more Victorians have BED than any other eating disorder. BED is debilitating and life-limiting and deserves equal recognition to other eating disorders,” Belinda said.
Lived experience advocate Sarah Bryan knows the challenges in the health system around BED firsthand.
“I was engaged in mental health services for a number of years for other things before my BED was recognised. Not only did health professionals not know the signs or the questions to ask, neither did I. I had never heard of BED before being diagnosed, I just thought the problem was me. Now I know that I had a legitimate, and treatable, eating disorder,” Sarah says.
Sarah recently led a group of Victorians with lived experience of BED to create a vision for policy makers to aspire to when re-examining eating disorders within our mental health system. The vision calls for all tiers of the mental health system to be better attuned to the signs of BED, with stepped access to BED-specific treatment and support. Key to this is weight-neutral care, which removes appearance-based prejudice that often plagues eating disorders. Eating disorders occur in people of all body sizes, with BED more likely to occur in people with higher weight.
Sarah will be speaking about this issue to MPs and other stakeholders, including the Minister for Mental Health Gabrielle Williams, at ‘Feed the Soul’’, a breakfast event at The Hotel Windsor hosted by EDV on Wednesday August 31st.
For further information, please contact Breanna Guterres, Communications Manager on 0431 717 177 or [email protected]. Please refer to the Mindframe media guidelines when reporting on eating disorders.