Staff member in Cath Lab in scrubsStaff in scrubs in the Cath LabStaff in scrubs in the Cath Lab


Help us transform our Eating Disorder Unit

Picture of Mikayla

3 June 2024

At any one time, about 1.1 million Australians are living with an eating disorder, with recent research showing an 86 per cent rise in eating disorders among young people since 2012. Some require long periods in hospital to treat their high levels of psychological distress and significant physical and medical problems. In 2023, over 1,270 people lost their battle with the illness.

Mikayla was nearly one of them.

Mikayla was diagnosed with anorexia in her late teens. At 38 kilos, doctors gave her three weeks to live if she didn’t get immediate help. She was admitted into the Adolescent Unit at Austin Health, where our service provided the supportive nursing, specialised dieticians, doctors and mental health specialists, and individualised meal planning she needed to recover.

Today, Mikayla works as a Peer Support Worker in our Eating Disorder Unit (EDU), where she uses her lived experience of illness and recovery to help others in their recovery journey. As she says, “My story offers hope that recovering from an eating disorder is possible.

“Being here can be scary at first, but you’re in the best, safest place with the most insanely wonderful staff. I wish I had the same sort of wrap-around services to help me back then; I would have gotten better so much faster.”

Our Eating Disorder Unit treats the top one per cent of severe cases in our catchment. These are the patients most at risk of serious medical complications, lifelong physical risks, and even death. We have a great track record for recovery with the very best team and services in place to help – full meal support, nursing staff, allied health professionals, group therapy, dieticians, social workers and psychologists – we would like to further enhance the physical environment and experience for our patients.

Mikayla explains, “When your sole focus is re-feeding, and you have to sit for six meals a day in a drab and dreary environment, it can be confronting. This is made worse by the fact we share a dining room with other patients. It’s chaotic, noisy and depressing.

“There’s also a lot of boredom, but nothing else on offer. No joy for people who need it. Having a music therapist, for example, would act as a distraction and be hugely beneficial to recovery.”

Through our Tax Appeal, we hope to raise funds to update the EDU into a for-purpose space that supports recovery. More than just a coat of paint and some new furniture, we will update the sleeping rooms in the unit, make a light and open common room, create a private dining space for patients, and offer more group therapies, such as art and music therapy.

These simple measures will make an enormous difference to the wellbeing of our patients, As Mikayla knows, “You need a space where people can feel comfortable, because this is a really uncomfortable illness with the highest mortality rate.”

You can support and share our Tax Appeal today.