News &

Grampians Health opens new eating disorder clinic for youth

[L-R]: Larissa Telfer – Eating Disorder Dietitian, Stacey English – Paediatric Eating Disorder Clinical Nurse Consultant, Michelle Ryan – Eating Disorder Dietitian, Dr. Duaa Gaafar – Eating Disorder Paediatrician, Leanne Rankin – Eating Disorder Project Lead for Mental Health.

27 April 2023

Grampians Health has opened a new multidisciplinary clinic in Ballarat to provide holistic treatment to young people under 18 years of age, who are suffering from eating disorders.

Currently Grampians Health provides contemporary eating disorder treatments through the paediatric services at the hospital and outpatient services, as well targeted mental health community care through the Infant & Child Mental Health Service and the Youth Mental Health Service.

The clinic will expand the current services provided at the hospital and aims to provide improved access to evidence-based treatment through a multidisciplinary approach and prioritise early intervention to curb the prevalence of eating disorders, particularly among adolescents.

Eating disorders affect all age groups and genders across Australia. More than one million Australians live with an eating disorder but less than a quarter of those receive treatment or support, according to research from The Butterfly Foundation.

The main objective of Grampians Health’s clinic, which opened on March 1, is to reduce wait times for those needing support with eating disorders and focus on intense community-based treatment to reduce hospital stays for these patients.

The clinic will offer an integrated model of care for young people under the age of 18, enabling them and their families to receive care from a team of qualified mental health and paediatric professionals from a single location.

“Although the health service has been providing care to adolescents with eating disorders for many years, this new service allows this to be undertaken in a coordinated, multidisciplinary manner similar to what is seen in most tertiary centres throughout the country,” said Dr David Tickell, consultant paediatrician, Grampians Health Ballarat.

“The multidisciplinary clinic will reduce overall appointment numbers for families and will provide consistent messaging and consistency of evidence-based care.”

The team at the clinic includes a paediatrician, a dietician, a mental health clinician and nurses who will work together to provide holistic care. As the clinic expands in the future, it will also include a psychiatrist, psychologists, Nurse Practitioner and Allied Health professionals.

“We will establish a dedicated eating disorder service for the Grampians Region that will have the capacity to provide a holistic approach in delivering physical and psychological care at the same time, and will be able to support all age groups,” said Mark Thornett, Director – Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, Community & Aged Care, Grampians Health.

“To achieve this, we will continue to work closely with the Victorian Centre for Excellence in Eating Disorder (CEED) in establishing the service to ensure that the most up to date and evidence-based treatments can be offered.”

Grampians Health’s eating disorder service recognises the need for early intervention in preventing eating disorders among the youth and will work alongside key stakeholders such as general practitioners and schools in the Grampians region to reduce the prevalence of eating disorders.

The multidisciplinary clinic currently operates once a week, with the availability of additional psychology and dietetic support outside these times. It is integrated with a similar multidisciplinary inpatient model of care, ensuring smooth transition between environments when required.

Youth under 18 years who would like to seek treatment at the eating disorder clinic will need GP referrals. They can alternatively contact Paediatric Eating Disorder Clinical Nurse Coordinator via hospital switchboard.

Those aged 18 years and above can contact the Eating Disorder Project Lead via hospital switchboard as referral processes are being finalised. If you are concerned for someone’s mental wellbeing, please call: 1300 661 323.