Eating Disorders Awareness Week runs February 1-7, 2018 and Eating Disorders Nova Scotia (EDNS) is hosting a series of events to raise awareness and provide support (listed below).
On February 7, EDNS will begin offering online peer support for Nova Scotians (and beyond) who can’t access in-person support because of where they live or because they’re not comfortable. Online peer support is a cost-effective way to reach more people across the province to offer them hope and support. This type of support model fills gaps in the mental health care system when it comes to eating disorders.
Please let me know if you’re interested in speaking to Michelle Hebert-Boyd, executive director of EDNS, or with Laura Mofina, an online peer support volunteer.
More details about online peer support and upcoming events for Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2018 are below.
Nova Scotians living with eating disorders will soon have access to qualified peer support online with the launch of a new online service February 7, 2018. The launch completes a week of awareness events to mark Eating Disorders Awareness Week, February 1 to 7, 2018.
Eating Disorders Nova Scotia (EDNS) will expand its core peer support program to deliver peer counselling to people in all parts of the province via an online portal. This is the first service of its kind in Nova Scotia and will be launched as a six-month pilot with financial support from the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia and the TELUS Community Fund.
“Demand for peer support services has outpaced our ability to provide support. For the first time, we have a waitlist of people looking to join a peer support group. When someone finds the courage to come forward for support, it’s heartbreaking and dangerous to tell them they need to wait. We know we need to find new ways to sustainably meet the demand,” said Michelle Hebert-Boyd, executive director, Eating Disorders Nova Scotia. “This project will allow us to expand our reach into rural communities under-serviced by traditional eating disorder supports, and to connect with people who may not be comfortable with receiving support in-person.”
This free, moderated online chat will provide people experiencing an eating disorder with an anonymous, supportive environment where they can share experiences, successes, and recovery strategies. Online chat allows EDNS to offer an accessible option that eliminates the wait list for peer support. Research from the Mental Health Commission of Canada confirms that an online approach to providing mental health supports can reduce stigma and costs, improve quality of care, and increase access (MHCC 2014).
Laura Mofina maintains recovery from an eating disorder and has been involved with EDNS as a Peer Mentor since 2015. In addition to meeting with mentees one-on-one and facilitating groups, she recently became certified to provide online peer support and will be one of eight volunteer peer support moderators running online discussions.
“We’re all super excited about our new online support platform,” said Mofina. “Reaching out for help with an eating disorder is a huge step. It can be an extremely scary and isolating experience. But having experienced my own recovery journey, I know that being able to talk to people who are receptive, and who can empathize with your struggles makes an incredibly meaningful impact. I’m really looking forward to giving people from rural areas access to this community, and to help them gain the courage to recover.”
EDNS’s Online Peer Support offers a safe, accessible, and confidential space for people to share experiences, learn coping skills, and to benefit from the support of others who understand what it can be like to struggle with an eating disorder. Each free, real-time Online Peer Support session is moderated by a trained EDNS Peer Mentor. People can register for online peer support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to receive an access code.
“It’s all about making help accessible and easy to use, no matter where they are,” said Hebert-Boyd. “This is just a start. With support from Nova Scotia communities, we look forward to building the network of support for people dealing with this serious mental illness.”
Around one in 10 people will experience an eating disorder during their lifetime, and one in six girls in Nova Scotia will develop an eating disorder before age 20. Over 20 years, 20 per cent of people with eating disorders die from their illness, yet there are only 12 psychiatrists in Canada specializing in eating disorders, virtually no research dollars, and not even an acknowledgment that eating disorders are one of the deadliest mental illnesses.
Peer support helps people to find support and motivation for recovery; reduce isolation, and; build healthy coping skills. Since 2015, EDNS’ peer support programs have reached hundreds of people in the HRM, Cape Breton, and the Annapolis Valley.
About Eating Disorders Nova Scotia
Eating Disorders Nova Scotia (EDNS) was established as a non-profit in 1999, to reach people who were falling in the gaps in the formal mental health system — people who weren’t ‘sick enough’ for clinical treatment, couldn’t access or afford therapy, or just weren’t ready to enter treatment. EDNS fights stigma through education, and by encouraging honest dialogue about mental illness, recovery, and social and cultural attitudes. The organization collaborates with policy makers and key stakeholders to advocate for better early intervention and accessible treatment options. EDNS inspires hope and empowers people affected by eating disorders to find recovery and strength, and to share that strength to build stronger, community-based support for people affected by eating disorders.
Eating Disorders Nova Scotia will host community events throughout Eating Disorders Awareness Week February 1 to 7, 2018. For more information, please visit eatingdisordersns.ca
Source: Media Release