Ballarat health practitioners are hoping to join together to provide an eating disorder service system for young sufferers.
Anorexia nervosa survivor Hannah White said regional towns including Ballarat did not provide enough services to people affected by an eating disorder.
She was diagnosed with the psychological illness eight years ago and has been receiving treatment in Geelong and Melbourne since 2017.
"It needs to be change because there are over 100,000 people in Ballarat and you can't even get someone who you can talk to who understands an eating disorder," Ms White said.
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"I have learnt you just get handballed from one person to the next person because no one understands and that's really sad. That's how people like me for a really long time got lost in the system.
"I think if there was more support out there, then maybe people's duration of suffering might be able to decrease because they'd be able to access the help they need sooner and hopefully be on the road to recovery soon and regain their life back."
Ballarat headspace manager Janelle Johnson said many Ballarat practitioners found it difficult to connect, to know who could provide services and who had the capacity to provide services.
But she said those clinicians were hoping to re-establish a group in the coming months, after Western Victoria Primary Health Network had drawn together interested services two years ago.
"As a Ballarat team, those clinicians who are interested and have the specialist skills to be able to support those young people also want to be able to support those young people well, so hopefully we can all get together and work to help those young people or anyone with that diagnosis," Ms Johnson said.
Ballarat Headspace already works with Ballarat Health Services, Paediatrics Ballarat, Ballarat Community Health and a range of private practitioners, dietetics and psychologists.
"It's difficult for the young person and the family to negotiate and navigate that system so we are hoping in the future that will make it easier," Ms Johnson said.
Grampians Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Service operations director Mark Thornett the implementation of the Mental Health Royal Commission recommendations were currently being considered for all eating disorder presentations across the age spectrum to promote optimal treatment outcomes.
"It is the right time to review and invest in building a comprehensive local service system for all ages of people experiencing eating disorders.Mark Thornett
He said eating disorder conditions were serious mental health conditions that required a complex service response.
"This response should be an evidence-informed, family centred and recovery focused mental health intervention, supported by acute medical care to manage the medical consequences associated with eating disorders and acute psychiatric services," Mr Thornett said.
In the Grampians and BHS region, the service for children and adolescents experiencing serious eating disorders is provided through the infant child mental health service and youth mental health service.
The adult community mental health teams provide support for adults experiencing serious eating disorders, while the BHS' mental health services provides assessment and targeted outpatient treatments for young people, older adults and their families, utilising contemporary evidence-informed psychological treatments for eating disorders.
Mr Thornett said BHS' infant child mental health service, youth mental health service and adult mental health services prioritised all referrals received for eating disorder clients.
Help and Support
Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues is encouraged to contact:
- Butterfly National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 (1800 ED HOPE) or email@example.com
- Eating Disorders Victoria Helpline on 1300 550 236
- For urgent support call Lifeline 13 11 14
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