Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2024
February 1-7 is Canada’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW). Every year, the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) collaborates with organizations across Canada on a campaign for EDAW. This year’s theme is Breaking Barriers, Facilitating Futures.
There are immense barriers when it comes to accessing the proper treatment for an eating disorder. Research around eating disorders is underfunded in Canada compared to other mental health conditions, leading to inadequate funding and resources for prevention and treatment. Wait times for publicly-funded eating disorder treatment in Canada can be up to two years, meaning many people seeking treatment have to wait while they are suffering. Some private eating disorder treatment is available but is inaccessible financially for many and may not be adequate for those needing higher levels of care.
In the healthcare field, eating disorders are often seen as a “niche” practice, meaning only some healthcare providers will see patients with eating disorders. However, this view is harmful, as eating disorders affect people of all ages, genders, racial and ethnic identities, sexual orientations, socioeconomic backgrounds, and body sizes. Eating Disorders are severe; they have the highest overall mortality rate of any mental illness in Canada. Healthcare providers need to recognize that they will be working with patients with eating disorders, no matter where they work, and be trained to detect eating disorders. People with eating disorders in our culture may be mistaken for being “well-disciplined” with food, and a healthcare provider not well-versed in eating disorders may inadvertently congratulate and encourage eating disorder behaviours. This creates a barrier to recognizing that treatment is needed and finding the appropriate help.
Some under-recognized barriers to eating disorder treatment highlighted in the EDAW campaign include food insecurity, trauma, co-occurring mental health conditions, as well as gender-affirming care. The EDAW campaign includes social media materials for people with living and lived experience of an eating disorder, as well as people supporting them, the general public, and healthcare providers. As part of the campaign, there are also community rooms, where people with living and lived experience with an eating disorder will connect and work together to map out their journey to accessing help.
To learn more about these barriers and the EDAW campaign, check out https://nedic.ca/edaw/
Where to get help:
- Call the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) helpline at 1-866-633-4220
- (18+ only) Call Women’s Health Clinic in Winnipeg for information and referrals at 1-866-947-1517 ext. 137
- (All ages) Make an appointment with your family doctor and ask for a referral to the Health Sciences Centre Eating Disorder Program
- Register for Body Peace, a FREE online program for anyone in Canada 14+. Whether you’re living with an eating disorder or are concerned about your relationship with food, your body, and/or exercise
- To see a Registered Dietitian in PMH call 1-877-509-7852
- To see a Mental Health professional in PMH visit our website to find the Access Guide