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Parent Advocacy in New Zealand By FEAST’s Own Nicki Wilson

One of the greatest achievements of successful advocacy is bringing everyone to the table to talk about how to solve problems and resolve issues. This is exactly what FEAST Board Member Nicki Wilson did in New Zealand recently through her work at EDANZ (Eating Disorders Association of New Zealand).

Parent advocates, district health boards, psychologists, counselors, and sector experts met to discuss the massive increase in the demand for eating disorders services, likely related to COVID-19, which has put a major strain on an already stretched health care system. This system has reached a breaking point, with record numbers of people seeking eating disorder treatment. As a result, people have to wait for extended periods of time before they can start treatment.

Parent advocates are calling for a sector-led specialist panel to look at what can be done to provide better support. Nicki stated, “Eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia are treatable illnesses – people can get better quite quickly if they are treated early enough, but that’s just not happening. ”

Another area of concern in New Zealand is the shortage of clinicians with evidence-based eating disorder training and the lack of skilled primary physicians who can identify eating disorder cases early on and treat patients more proactively in the community while they wait for specialized care.

FEAST commends Nicki Wilson and EDANZ on their advocacy efforts and hopes that they bring about the necessary change in New Zealand to improve treatment and reduce suffering for people with eating disorders and their families.

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  1. Sarah Rowland NZEDCS

    Thank you so much for your ongoing work Nicki and EDANZ. It is an horendous situation we face in New Zealand where services so few and quality clinicians almost non-existent. Families are not just falling through the cracks – the are more gaping chasms..
    Because of the lack of treatment services, facilities and clinicians, we are seeing our children left untreated, transitioning from pediatric to adult services with serious further associated mental illnesses. This is taking a massive toll upon families and loved ones.
    We support all organisations who can assist with this important advocacy to promote permanent system changes at government level.

  2. Janine

    A big thank you to you Nicki, for your ongoing support and advocacy. It is much appreciated by us and the families struggling everyday in NZ.
    Having a daughter live with an ED for 7 years, I know full well the devastation this illness causes. I can’t help but think , if we got in for an assessment and treatment ASAP instead of the long waiting lists, my daughter and our family wouldn’t have endured 7 years, to date, of heartbreaking relapses, near death experiences and hell.
    Not to mention the incredible amount of money we have put in to her recovery but also the public system. It’s mind blowing, multiple hospital and treatment admissions!
    If only she was seen straight away and given the best treatment ASAP. The waiting list are up to 18 months, nowhere near enough trained therapists. The ambulance at the bottom of the cliff model is a disaster both financially and emotionally . It has to change.

  3. Nina

    We were so fortunate to be directed to a (private) FBT therapist. It meant we were put in charge and given tools very swiftly, instead of endless referrals etc. Within 4 weeks we were set on the course of action.
    We later switched to a DHB therapy, which was also firmly FBT, however there was a good 3-month waiting list during which we plodded on as good as we can.
    This was all pre-Covid and I can only imagine what the excruciating wait must be like for families afflicted now.
    Thank you Nicki for advocating for our kids and parents. You are saving lives!

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