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Eating Disorder Victoria's Peer Mentoring Program

The Peer Mentoring Program (PMP) has been developed in partnership with Eating Disorders Victoria and St Vincent's Hospital Body image and eating disorders treatment and recovery service (BETRS).

The program is the only program of its kind for eating disorders patients in Victoria, and Australia-wide. The program involves a mentor who has themselves recovered from an eating disorder, who is matched with a participant who is currently living with an eating disorder and trying to recover from it. The participant can either be exiting hospital treatment or a current hospital in-patient. 

Funding for the development, pilot and evaluation of this program has been provided by The Ian Potter Foundation, John T Reid Charitable Trusts and The William Buckland Foundation. 

The peer mentoring program is designed to:

  • Provide hope to participants that recovery is possible
  • Reduce hospital readmission rates 
  • Improve quality of life for participants and mentors (through mentors improving their capacity to support others)

What is a peer mentor?

Peer Mentoring can be defined as the help and support that people with lived experience of a mental illness are able to give one another. It is a relationship based on shared experince, wherea Mentor assists a participant’s recovery by focusing on strengths and developing skills to accomplish self-identified goals.

A Mentor provides valuable insight of someone with a lived experience, which is extremely valuable in the eyes of the participant. Often it is the unique relationship, unlike a friendship or clinical relationship, that in some ways can fill the gap between the two.

Quite often those in recovery have not met anyone who has recovered and as a result can find it challenging to believe it is possible.

How does the program work?

Participants are matched with an EDV mentor and meet on a fortnightly basis for 13 sessions. Each session can be up-to three hours at a time. The mentor supports the participant by working together to develop a recovery focused wellness plan. They then undertake the activities in the wellness plan together, to achieve identified goals - including engaging with community life and developing self-care.


The PMP has been running since 2016 with the first mentoring relationships starting in February 2017. During this time the mentors and participants have participated in an external evaluation to determine outcomes of the program. To date there has been 32 participants referred to the program, 18 Mentors trained and 279 sessions held.

Some of the great outcomes from the first program are-

  • 100% of participants in the program all completed a ‘Wellness Plan’ which formed the structure for sessions and included support information and goals to work on.
  • Participants reported they liked the relaxed nature of the program, but felt reassured that there were parameters in place to help guide the relationship.
  • 100% of participants showed improvements in their Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaires, especially in the areas of eating concern and shape concern.
  • 60% showed improvements in coping skills and the ability to actively manage persistent symptoms and triggers. 
  • 72% of participants were not readmitted.
  • 100% of mentors received training from SANE Australia to develop skills to respond to thoughts of suicide and self-harm.
  • 100% of mentors found the program to be of benefit to their own recovery by allowing them to unpack aspects of their recovery and having access to a support team if issues arose. Mentors viewed the program as positive with regard to their own self-care and gaining perspective on how far they had come in their own recovery.

Below are some quotes from the Peer Mentors after completeing the program-

Peer mentors:

  • “I’ve never met a group like the other peer mentors before. I remember sitting there on the first day thinking, “Who ARE these people – they’re incredible!” It’s so hard to put into words. I’ve just never met such an inspiring bunch of empowering, amazing people my entire life. I was in awe, and I still am!”
  • “getting to use my lived experience, you know, past experiences that were quite negative and traumatic, and then being able to use it in a positive way”
  • “I felt like it just reminded me how lucky I am that I actually got through all of that, I was really unwell and I was not necessarily recovering in the greatest way”.
  • “Recovery is not perfect”
  • “Recovery is about being able to deal with those emotions without the coping strategy of ED. While the negative emotions might be big, so are the other positive ones.”
  • “My goal is to help you reach your goal” 


Participant quotes:

  • “I was looking for a quick fix. I wanted to get better overnight. She said “that’s not going to happen, you need to accept that it’s going to take time.”
  • “It can get a bit overwhelming, having so many different treating team members and having to see so many different people and talk. It’s good to just be able to do something a bit more fun, and still be able to talk if that is what you need to do but in a less structured way.”
  • “I’ve never been more motivated to change”


Want to get involved?


We are currently only taking referrals from the Austin Hopsital eating disorder program at this stage, but watch this space for developments.


If If you have recovered from an eating disorder and would like to apply to be a Mentor, contact EDV PMP Coordinator Rachael Duck This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or 1300 550236

Note – we are not currently recruiting for new Mentors, but are able to add you to the wait list.


Protocol Paper

The evaluation team has published a paper which outlines the study which aims to assess the efficacy of a peer mentoring program for individuals. The paper can be found here.

Link -


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