February 1-7, 2023, is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and Child and Youth Mental Health Services (CYMHS) at Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH) is working towards better meeting needs and improving care for local youth who have or are at risk of developing eating disorders.
As the number of young people across Canada and regionally seeking treatment for mental illness including eating disorders has spiked since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Youth Services Bureau has invited CYMHS staff to participate in eating disorder training through Anchor Psychological Services.
The training, which has been taking place over the past year, ensures that mental health clinicians with CYMHS at CCH are well-informed and better equipped to identify, understand, assess, and treat some local children and youth affected by eating disorders.
Should it be deemed that the client’s eating disorder requires more advanced levels of care, CYMHS would work closely with their primary care provider and other community professionals to refer them to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.
“Local families can take comfort in knowing that CYMHS at Cornwall Hospital can be their first point of contact and are prepared to provide qualified services or referrals for children and youth who may be suffering from mental illness including eating disorders,” explains Christine Penney, Vice-President of Community Programs at Cornwall Hospital. “We’re proud to be taking measures to better meet the needs of our community as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre, eating disorders are complex mental illnesses with physical manifestations. Several factors can contribute to the development of an eating disorder, including genetics and mental health as well as cultural factors. Clinical eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, avoidant and restrictive food intake disorder, and binge eating disorder. While eating disorders are serious and can have life-threatening complications, they are also treatable illnesses.
Recent research has found that the incidence of newly diagnosed anorexia nervosa or atypical anorexia nervosa in patients aged 9 to 18 across Canada increased 60 per cent over pre-pandemic levels while hospitalizations nearly tripled, in part due to increased isolation and disruptions to primary care services throughout the pandemic.
More information and resources on eating disorders, such as their signs and symptoms, can be found on the National Eating Disorder Information Centre’s website at www.nedic.ca. Local families can get connected with free children and youth mental health services near them to help treat eating disorders, including the hospital’s CYMHS, by visiting www.1call1click.ca.