South Island’s eating disorder program to halt services for adults

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Sally Chaster describes living with an eating disorder as a lifelong battle.

“I have Anorexia Nervosa,” said the 62-year-old. “It inhibits eating to the point where my body is in a state of starvation.”

It’s a form of mental illness she says she’s dealt with on and off since she was six years old. Over the past few years, she’s come to rely on treatments and therapies provided by the BC Government-funded Eating Disorder Program in Victoria.

“The Insights that I learned helped save my life,” said the former senior Provincial government worker who’s now on long-term disability.

Chaster also volunteers with a South Island peer support group for those suffering from eating disorders. She says despite the service having helped hundreds in the region, she was recently informed that the program will be suspended for adults as of January 1, 2022.

“The news has been met with devastation, hopelessness, confusion,” said Chaster.

Experts in the field agree. Cole Little worked at the Eating Disorders Program for over a decade and now runs her own private counselling business.

“It feels like we’re on a shore just watching a tsunami come,” said Little. “Without treatment…Who’s going to pick up the slack? It’s going to be emergency services.”

With hospitals already dealing with a variety of issues, Little says adults suffering from eating disorders in the region deserve better. The program is currently funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development and will continue to serve children, though details are uncertain at this time.

Meanwhile, Chaster says she’s lucky enough to afford private help but understands there are many others suffering each day who may fall between the cracks. She’s hoping by raising awareness, the Provincial government will listen.

“It’s not an us versus them,” said Chaster. “It’s more of an us trying to get attention to the desperate need that they’re in.”

CHEK News reached out to The Ministry of Children and Family Development, but they have not yet responded.

Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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