Free session for eating disorders 

2 minute read

The Butterfly Foundation is calling on GPs to refer patients to the free online service this month to circumvent waitlists.

Patients on a waitlist for eating-disorder issues are eligible for a free session with trained psychologists, thanks to a federally funded program run by the Butterfly Foundation.  

The pilot program, which offers a single 60-to-90-minute session, runs only until 30 June. Patients must have a GP or psychologist referral.  

There has been an almost threefold increase in the number of people calling the foundation’s helpline in the past five years, and the pandemic was tied to an uptick in more complex cases, according to the organisation.  

“Psychologists, psychiatrists, GPs, dietitians and other healthcare professionals working with people with eating disorders are well aware of the significant demand we’re seeing for our services,” said Dr Ranjani Utpala, Butterfly’s clinical services director, in a statement.  

“There is emerging evidence to suggest that people can experience symptom improvement if they receive support and information while they await treatment,” Dr Utpala said.  

The “In the Wings” intervention aims to offer a provisional diagnosis, information about the factors maintaining the disorder, and education and resources about the physical and psychosocial consequences of eating disorders.  

Participants are eligible if they are over the age of 16 and are either on a wait list for eating disorder treatment or in a Mental Health Care Plan.  

“By offering [a single session intervention] in the early stages of referral, we can ensure that a) people are on the correct waiting list, b) receive psychoeducation and resources to keep them engaged, and c) provide hope and motivation to make small changes while they wait for an appointment,” said Dr Utpala.  

Patients can be enrolled at the In the Wings page of the Butterfly Foundation’s website.  

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