Stigma means eating disorder sufferers not getting treatment

MORE than half a million Australians suffering from eating disorders are currently not receiving appropriate treatment, largely due to stigma and common misconceptions.

These misconceptions, associated with illnesses such Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating Disorder, means more than 70% of Australians diagnosed with an eating disorder are not accessing treatment services. Butterfly Foundation CEO, Christine Morgan said. 

"Eating disorders are serious and complex mental illnesses. They are not a lifestyle choice, or a diet gone too far," Ms Morgan said.

"In 2014 alone there were more than 200,000 newly developed cases of eating disorders in Australia.  More than 945,000 Australians currently suffer from an eating disorder.

"Without early intervention and the right treatment, eating disorders have a hugely detrimental impact, not only on sufferers, but on their families, and the wider community too," Ms Morgan said.

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Sadly, more Australians die from eating disorders each year than from any other psychiatric illness.

Medical Director of Austin Mental Health Service, Dr. Richard Newton said eating disorders are not gender and age specific illnesses.

"There's a misconception that the illness affects only young girls, but increasingly, we're seeing males and older Australians diagnosed," he said.

Misconceptions about the illness extend to common public belief that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice and are not a life-threating, serious psychiatric illness.

The Butterfly Foundation's Don't DIS My Appearance campaign, aims to increase awareness of eating disorders, denounce the harmful culture of appearance based judgement, and raise vital funds to help them continue their important work.

All funds raised as part of the Don't DIS My Appearance campaign will go towards better prevention and treatment services to fight eating disorders and the devastating impact they have on sufferers, their families and the wider community.

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