Eating disorders – the hidden pandemic in children & adolescents

The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on the health and wellbeing of children and young people, particularly due to the social and economic disruption it has caused to their lives and those of their families and communities. These impacts have become particularly noticeable in child and adolescent mental health services and Emergency Departments across both nations. 

CHA’s benchmarking data indicates that in 2020 and 2021 there has been a marked increase (on average by 60% over pre-pandemic levels) in young people presenting to Emergency Departments associated with intended or actual self harm.  CHA has facilitated a range of presentations aimed at supporting emergency care teams to respond effectively to this growing need.  Join these conversations, share and access resources in the Paediatric Emergency Care Networking Group on the online Members Community (you must be logged into your account to access these conversations).   

There has also been dramatic increases in most parts of Australia and New Zealand in young people requiring hospital care associated with an eating disorder.  Specialist inpatient services for child and adolescent eating disorders have experienced between 100 and 200% increase in admissions since the pandemic began.  Rural and regional services are also reporting marked increases in the numbers of patients requiring care for an eating disorder.   

CHA has been actively supporting members to share information & models of care for affected young people and families in Eating Disorders hot topic forum group in the online Members Community (you must be logged into your account to access these conversations).  This has included innovative co-design approaches that place parents & young people at the centre of their care, mapping of service structures & skillmix, sharing of education resources to upskill staff and much more. 

We have also established an Eating Disorders Learning Network which brings together clinicians, researchers, patients and families to support improvements in care and outcomes. To find out more, visit our Eating Disorders Learning Network page.

To find out more about our Benchmarking Program

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