Going the extra mile for youth experiencing eating disorders
According to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC), at any given time, an estimated 840,000 to 1,750,000 people in Canada have symptoms sufficient for an eating disorder diagnosis. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of youth experiencing eating disorders and body image issues has grown significantly. With a $150,000 grant from TELUS Friendly Future Foundation, NEDIC has been able to go the extra mile for Canada's youth by extending their instant chat helpline hours into the evenings and weekends, and expanding their outreach work in the community and on social media for youth like Aspen.
Aspen chatted with NEDIC’s helpline for the first time in 2021, wanting to talk to someone about their struggles with body image and eating – they were fighting against powerful compulsions to restrict, and feeling intense urges to purge when they did manage to eat. They were overwhelmed trying to manage this on their own, and wanted support. On the other end of their chat, Aspen found a support worker who was compassionate, and listened without judgment in order to understand their unique situation and work with them on figuring out a few recovery-oriented steps that they felt they could take. By the end of the chat, Aspen was feeling better about the meal they had just eaten, and had some new ideas for coping strategies for the next time the overwhelming feelings struck.
NEDIC has witnessed a positive impact of extending their helpline and instant chat service hours and further expanding their community education programming into the online spaces in which young people are comfortable. By increasing their capacity to engage clients in open dialogue and education, their support and outreach workers have been serving greater numbers of youth and, as a result, helping them feel more connected, heard and hopeful.
“Our TELUS Friendly Future Foundation grant played a significant role in securing additional funding for NEDIC. Their generous support of our programming was instrumental in attracting a transformative donation that will enhance our client services, including ongoing resource development and piloting AI technology in the future on our website.”
- Suzanne Phillips, Program Manager at NEDIC
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