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New guide offers firsthand insights into recovery from eating disorders

More than 100 Australians who have experienced an eating disorder have lent their voices to a new guide that aims to help healthcare professionals adopt a person-centred, recovery-oriented approach to care.

There are almost a million Australians living with an eating disorder yet only 27 per cent access treatment, said Christine Morgan, chief executive of the Butterfly Foundation.

The group developed the new resource, funded by the Mental Health Commission of NSW and titled Insights in Recovery, using feedback from online surveys and focus groups with people who have experienced an eating disorder to find out what helped and hindered their recovery.

Morgan said: “People who have walked the path of recovery from an eating disorder have a lot to teach us about how we could help others return to physical and mental health, and we’ve captured that expertise in this resource.”

The team found people wanted health professionals to walk them through what recovery entails, help them to feel safe, use mindful language, discover who they are beyond the eating disorder and connect them with healthy supports in everyday life.

NSW mental health commissioner John Feneley said the new publication shows health professionals, who often express a lack of confidence in their own knowledge and training in this area, some things they can do to help people feel safe.

“This wise first-hand advice, coupled with a guide to evidence-based treatment, should give health professionals the foundation they need to respectfully support people experiencing a complex condition that has been the subject of a great deal of public misunderstanding,” Feneley said.

"Insights in Recovery: A consumer-informed guide for health practitioners working with people with eating disorders" can be accessed here.

For mental health support, contact Lifeline at 13 11 14 or beyondblue at 1300 22 4636.

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