To coincide with the National Workshop Minister Butler launched a new Mindframe reference guide addressing the reporting and portrayal of eating disorders. The launch of this new resource provided an excellent lead in for the Communications professional development workshop which focused on evidenced based key messages about eating disorders to different target audiences.
In groups participants engaged in real life scenarios, evaluating some current physical and mental health campaigns. Participants had the opportunity to create their own public health campaigns, contemplating new ideas and challenges for greater synergy and collaboration for key audiences. Marc Bryant from Mindframe also presented on the new reference guide.
This was the first time that communications specialists in the area of mental health from different organisations have come together to discuss the effective communication of eating disorders in the public health sector – an achievement in itself.
With prevention high on the NEDC agenda, we provided two interactive workshops. In the morning session, Laura Hart led a workshop entitled “Should I say something?” With a focus on delivering the Mental Health First Aid Guidelines for Eating Disorders, developed by Laura in conjunction with the Orygen Youth Health Research Centre and La Trobe University, the group discussed the who, what, when, where and why of eating disorders, and how we can provide early intervention, and encourage help-seeking for young people identified at risk of developing an eating disorder. With a practical emphasis on what to say, how to say it and ways of managing concerns, the feedback was that people felt enabled to begin the difficult conversations about eating disorders, with more confidence that the answer to “Should I say something?” is a resounding YES!
Danni Rowlands continued the momentum in the afternoon workshop on Prevention in Practice. Taking a detailed look at the evidence base for the precursors to eating disorders, Danni exposed the myths of dieting, body esteem, media literacy and the other major risk factors for eating disorders. The group discussed the prevention strategies currently being practiced in their area, and how we can get the broader society involved in disseminating effective prevention messages.
The information generated from this group will contribute to the NEDC Prevention and Early Intervention Report, through the identification of strategies for implementation, integration of messages across the sectors and health services, and ideas for taking the “next steps” to create a paradigm shift in the Australian culture.
Evidence from experience
A group of around 50 participants spent the day exploring practical and effective ways of enabling people with experience of eating disorders and their carers to engage in the process of consumer participation.
Consumer participation has been a major focus in mental health standards and mental health service development over the last decade. Research studies have demonstrated what we already know from experience, that people with experience of a mental illness can often develop more meaningful and relevant ideas for service development than professionals with no personal experience.
The workshop included real-life examples of the ways in which people who had recovered from an eating disorder have been able to use their knowledge and experience to contribute to service development and improvement. Consumer experience included participating in training for health professionals working in the field, running peer support and education programs for other sufferers, getting involved and working in community based support agencies, delivering education programs in schools and the community, and representing sufferers on advisory panels and bodies.
The participants also reviewed draft guidelines for consumer participation in the mental health field, and provided feedback and insight into how these guidelines could be strengthened to ensure they are appropriate and effective for people with eating disorders, their family and carers.
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