Eating disorders targeted by UBCO students

Eating disorders stem from serious conditions that can have profound psychological and medical complications on a person, including death.

A group of fourth-year nursing students at UBC’s Okanagan campus aims to help a local not-for-profit organization called P.E.A.C.E. in Mind, which supports parents and families raising children and youth with mental health disorders.

“Many people may have some awareness of what these illnesses look like, but few have a true appreciation of their impact on one's life and mental well-being,” says nursing student Lynn Tran.

P.E.A.C.E. stands for Parents Empowered and Children Encouraged. Its mission is to create public awareness, knowledge, and understanding about children’s mental-health issues, and identify gaps in youth mental health services, says Christa Akins, founder of the organization.

One such gap, says Akins, is the need for a more intensive treatment program for young people with eating disorders. P.E.A.C.E. in Mind is supporting the development of a day treatment centre in Kelowna, and is seeking community support.

Parents are often told that they have to wait weeks or months before they can see a professional for treatment for their child, says Akins. P.E.A.C.E. in Mind offers advocacy, peer support, resource and education, and a place for comfort for parents and children.

As their leadership and political action project, three fourth-year nursing students Alysa Mortimore, Taya Vilac and Tran are organizing a community awareness event, in partnership with P.E.A.C.E in Mind, to help parents raising children with mental-health disorders.

“Eating disorders are very complex and often associated with serious physical complications,” says Tran. “Just imagine the mental turmoil a parent must go through while waiting; the fear, the helplessness, and the loneliness.”

The public event takes place on Wednesday, Nov. 12, at UBC’s Okanagan campus, UNC Ballroom, from 7 to 9 p.m. The event will focus on mental health issues of children affected by eating disorders. There will be a panel discussion with Phil Johnson, radio personality from AM1150, as event MC. Panelists include pediatrician Kim Burrows, psychiatrist Heather Derry, registered nurse Mary Lamoureux, and Akins.

Admission is free; however, donations to P.E.A.C.E. in Mind will be accepted. Funds raised will help support space and operating expenses for the not-for-profit organization. Pay parking is available on campus.