Several children’s hospitals in Ontario say they’ve seen a rise in youth with eating disorders over the last year. Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children said it has seen a 35 per cent annual increase in admissions to its eating disorder program, while its inpatient psychiatry and adolescent medicine unit has been consistently at or over capacity. A children’s hospital in Hamilton says it’s seen a 90 per cent spike in referrals to its eating disorder program. And the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario says it has reallocated resources and increased inpatient capacity to manage the influx of young patients with eating disorders.
Christina Bartha, executive director of the brain and mental health program at SickKids says that wait times for mental health and eating disorder services at SickKids were “not good” even before the pandemic. But she said COVID-19 made things far worse. Hadley Phillipson-Webb is just one of many youth who were diagnosed with an eating disorder during the pandemic. She says her mind was increasingly occupied with negative thoughts about her appearance as pandemic restrictions left her cut off from socializing with friends at school and at a karate studio. She says she got less and less happy with how she looked and eventually stopped eating.
The province has announced a 8.1-million-dollar investment to support specialized care for children and youth with eating disorders. The funding will provide 14 additional inpatient surge beds and 10 additional day treatment spaces.
The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: Global News Kitchener