Technology Reaches Youth at Risk

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
September/October 2011 Volume 22, Number 5
©2011 Gürze Books

Two programs that will be described at the European Council of Eating Disorders in Firenze, Italy, September 15-17, use the network available via the Internet to reach out to and offer information and help to youths recovering from eating disorders and to those at risk for eating disorders.

Young mentors go online

It seemed a novel idea: Why not use Internet networking to help support eating disorders patients as they recover? Drs. Emma Healey and Francis Burrows of the charity BEAT (Beating Eating Disorders) of Norwich, UK, described an innovative program using recovered eating disorders patients as mentors to patients currently recovering from eating disorders.

A year-long pilot program offers online mentoring by young persons who have recovered from an eating disorder, who reach out to current eating disorders patients through weekly emails and live group chats. The Ambassadors offer a safe and supportive environment where young “ambassadors” and patients can share their experiences and understanding of the individual disorders, and can provide support and encouragement for recovery.

The group recovery clubs provide a six-session program that take patients through the different stages of recovery, give tips for coping with the complex changes that occur during recovery, and help them anticipate how to cope with relapse.

An “Internet portal” for young people

At the European conference, Dr. Stephanie Bauer, of the Center for Psychotherapy Research, Heidelberg, Germany, described the Pro Youth Initiative, a multi-nation program to educate young people about eating disorders and to help them detect problematic attitudes and behaviors. By supplying what is described as an “Pro-Youth Information and Support Portal,” Dr. Bauer and colleagues in the Czech Republic, Italy, Ireland, Hungary, and the Netherlands designed the Internet program to lessen the time between the development of unhealthy eating, body dissatisfaction, and eating disorders and peer and professional support. (For more information, see the website,

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