Student-focused eating disorder clinic coming to London in 2024

The Harbour is dedicated to offering specialized care to students struggling with eating disorders.

A new project by the Eating Disorders Foundation of Canada (EDFC) aims to provide better support to students and young adults with eating disorders. The Harbour, envisioned by a former Western professor and founder of the EDFC Dr. Robbie Campbell, will act as a multi-disciplinary treatment clinic serving post-secondary students struggling with eating disorders.

The Harbour will follow a unique model of care and support, not currently found at any other educational institution nationwide. With the capacity to serve 100 students annually, Campbell hopes it will serve as a pilot program for other institutions to learn from and potentially adopt.

“The clinic would be close to access for students at Fanshawe and Western, so we don’t want it necessarily at one end of the city or the other. We want easy access for all, including those from London attending college or university,” Campbell said.

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According to Campbell, untreated eating disorders can lead to mortality rates as high as 10 to 20 per cent, and the people who require treatment for eating disorders are currently facing a waiting period of two and a half years in London.

The reason for selecting both educational institutions for this pilot project is to ensure that patients are referred directly from the university and college’s own Health Services, which will provide assessment both on and off campus.

From a scientific standpoint, the outcomes of this pilot initiative will provide a basis for further research.

“Eating disorders go together with other conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), OCD (Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder), ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), substance use, and other illnesses. You must have a team approach, or you’re not going to be able to cover all the all the other psychiatric co-morbidities that go along with it,” Campbell explained.

That’s why having a multidisciplinary team with psychologists, social workers, nurses, physicians, psychiatrists, dietitians, recreational therapists, and occupational therapists is crucial.

To access The Harbour, a student must first be referred by their university or college’s Student Health and Wellness Services. Once referred, the student will undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Following the assessment, a support plan will be formulated for the student. If the student agrees to the program, a Clinical Support Manager (CSM) will be assigned to them. The CSM will act as the student's primary therapist and organize and supervise a program of individual and group therapy as required.

EDFC is still looking for financial support from community sponsors, corporate partners, and private donors to open The Harbour by January 2024.

“We’re looking at putting together $500,000 for one year of operation ($400,000 Salaries and Professional services plus $100,000 Miscellaneous), and we want to make sure that we have at least three operational years in place to sustain,” said Campbell.

On the official EDFC website, there is direct access to support the project. Anyone can donate any amount, even once a month.