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According to new survey, eating disorders heightened amid pandemic

Photo: Eating disorders heightened amid pandemic
Regional Australians with eating disorders have been struggling to access extra support during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey.

The coronavirus pandemic is making life harder for people with eating disorders, particularly those who may already feel isolated in regional and remote parts of Australia.

A surveyed released by the Butterfly Foundation on Tuesday found 80 per cent of people living with an eating disorder in regional communities have needed extra support during the pandemic.

About 82 per cent of those surveyed reported heightened eating disorder thoughts, but two-thirds said the pandemic had affected their ability to access treatment and support.
"The virus makes getting food impossible so it's a time bomb isn't it?" one respondent said.

Another found it harder to find their favoured, or safe, foods when grocery shopping due to stock shortages.

Speaking from her lived experience with an eating disorder, Tarsh, who did not give her surname, said eating disorders "love social isolation".

"We need to immediately connect with people who are disconnected from care and treatment in regional Australia right now and look at a long-term plan of managing this when we are out of COVID-19 isolation," she said in a statement.

The nurse and mother of six said living in a rural Victorian community created challenges for her family when she returned from a city inpatient facility.

"What's needed is access to comprehensive treatment teams in our own communities so that when we are discharged from a metro centre, we continue to feel supported," she said.

About 95 per cent of those surveyed from regional communities found where they lived was an obstacle for accessing help.

The Butterfly Foundation launched a "pushing past postcodes" campaign on Tuesday, with the aim of raising awareness and money to improve access to vital programs and services in regional and remote areas.

The foundation will also investigate options for virtual support in rural and remote areas, such as dedicated eating disorder online forums and online meal support.

It's estimated about 280,000 of the one million Australians living with an eating disorder live in regional communities.

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636


Butterfly Foundation 1800 334 673

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