Eating Disorder Treatment for Children | Eating Didsorders Victoria
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Eating disorder treatment for children and young people

Home ~ My recovery journey ~ Eating disorder treatment for children and young people

This page provides an overview of the treatment options for children, adolescents and young adults in Victoria. After reading this page we encourage you to speak with your GP or leading clinician to determine the most suitable course of treatment for the young person involved.

Treatment overview

After receiving a diagnosis from a GP or other health professional,  the next step is starting on an appropriate course of treatment as soon as possible.

Treatment pathways and approaches for children and young people will depend on the age of the individual, the eating disorder diagnosis and a the circumstances of the family involved.  

In general, treatment will involve a combination of the following: 

  • Psychotherapy (therapy, counselling or psychological intervention usually through a psychologist, psychiatrist or mental health social worker) 
  • Physical health management and referral coordination (usually through a GP or paediatrician)  
  • Nutritional counselling (usually through an Accredited Practicing Dietitian)  
  • Self-help (learning and avoiding triggers, applying coping skills, attending support groups etc.) 

Sometimes it can be trial and error to find what works best for you or your loved one. It’s important not to give up trying when it comes to treatment. 

Please note that all information provided on this page is relevant to children, adolescents and young adults living in Victoria only. Different states have different pathways to access care.  

Option 1: The public health system

The Victorian public health system (CYMHS and CAMHS) is generally well equipped to treat eating disorders in young people with evidence-based approaches. The specialist training of treatment teams and established treatment pathways in the public health system can help guide and support families through what can be a confusing and challenging time.

Public health services do not require out of pocket fees for families, making treatment through these services a cost effective option. They also offer multidisciplinary teams, which can include clinicians such as psychologists, dietitians, social workers, psychiatrists and occupational therapists.

For these reasons, EDV encourage families to explore treatment in the public health system as the first port of call. 

 

CYMHS  and CAMHS

Your local area will have either a CYMHS (Child and Youth Mental Health Service) or a CAMHS  (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service). Your GP will likely manage the referral to your local CYMHS or CAMHS team, however you can also self-refer through your local triage line. To find the details of your local service, visit the Victorian Government website here.  

The local CYMHS or CAMHS will coordinate the appropriate treatment for the young person. This treatment may take place in the community (for example at home through Family Based Treatment), or in a hospital inpatient or outpatient program.

Public hospital programs

The following public hospitals provide both outpatient care and access to specialist inpatient care for children and adolescents with eating disorders: 

 The following public health services also have dedicated Eating Disorders Treatment Programs for children and adolescents: 

headspace

headspace centres are located throughout Victoria and provide free, confidential mental health support services for young people aged between 12 & 25 years. headspace is often a great starting point for young people who are needing mental health support and can be an entry point into CAHMS and CYMHS services.

To find your local headspace, please see here.

Option 2: The private health system

Treatment for a child or adolescent is certainly possible in the private health system. Treatment models, such as FBT, are available through private practitioners such as psychologists and social workers. The Medicare subsidies available through the Eating Disorder Plan also enable private care to be more affordable for families.

Some private inpatient treatment facilities will start taking patients from the age of 16.

As always, we recommend working with your GP or leading treating clinician to find the treatment setting that will work best for the young person and the family. If you need help finding private practitioners in your geographic area, please get in touch with the EDV Hub.

Common treatment models

Anorexia Nervosa in under 18s

If you are a parent of a young person with a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, you will likely be introduced to Family Based Treatment (FBT). FBT, also sometimes known as the Maudsley Model, is a treatment approach that has the most robust evidence base for the effective treatment of anorexia nervosa in young people who are still living at home.

Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder in under 18s

Some CAMHS/CYMHS will treat these other disorders, especially when comorbidities may be present e.g. depression, suicidality, self-harm. Private practitioners can also assist here.

Treatment models you are looking for include CBT-E for adolescents, and FBT-BN. All models should include supporting changes to eating/compensatory behaviours as a core component to treatment.

Further help

We know that navigating treatment options can be difficult, and everyone’s circumstances are different.

If you are looking for further guidance and support about treatment options for a child or young person, please get in touch with us.

Contact the EDV Hub
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