Expanded supports for people living with eating disorders

MENTAL HEALTH

British Columbians affected by eating disorders will benefit from expanded services, supports and more timely access to care, with an investment to help meet increased need because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government of B.C. is investing $6.6 million to increase access to virtual peer support services and enhanced eating disorder services throughout the province. This expansion of eating disorder care comes at a time when the number and severity of cases of this life-threatening illness has reached an all-time high, due to increased anxiety and social isolation caused by the pandemic.

"Eating disorders are the deadliest, yet most misunderstood mental illness," said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "People suffering from eating disorders have told me their well-being and access to services has been disrupted by the pandemic. That is why we are expanding services in every health authority to ensure that more people get the help they need and deserve."

The investment through Budget 2021 will support regional health authorities over three years in hiring more staff to expand existing eating disorder services and facilitate timely access to supports.

Budget 2021 also provides an additional $530,000 over three years to the Looking Glass Foundation for Eating Disorders to support increased access to virtual peer services for people living with an eating disorder. Virtual peer supports are critical to ensure services are available when and where people need them. The supports will help improve access and quality of care, particularly for people in rural and underserved communities. This investment complements an additional $87,000 grant from the Province that will further support the Looking Glass Foundation's work to help people on their recovery journey.

"We are very grateful to the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions for their support and their recognition of the severity of this illness, which impacts the lives of so many British Columbians," said Susan Climie, executive director, Looking Glass Foundation for Eating Disorders. "This funding is crucial in enabling us to strengthen our efforts towards eliminating the stigma surrounding eating disorders and providing low-barrier support to whoever needs it, when and where they need it in the province."

This funding supports the Province's goal of improved access, better quality and ensuring equitable access to culturally safe and effective care. This is outlined in A Pathway to Hope, B.C.'s roadmap for creating a seamless, comprehensive system of mental health and addictions care that works for everyone.