COVID-19 + ED: FAQs

The Toronto Foundation compiled this brief to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on mental health generally. 
​​​​​​​

Risk

There is currently very little information available as to whether individuals with eating disorders are at a heightened risk for developing COVID-19. We hope that there will be more detailed information available at some point, but recommend practising social distancing if at all possible as well as following the recommendations of your local health authority.


Complications

We are still in the early stages of understanding COVID-19, so there is little information available about the complications of COVID-19 as it relates specifically to eating disorders. This blog post from the Gaudiani Clinic discusses potential complications if someone with an ED does contract COVID-19. Dr. Gaudiani discusses potential complications that could arise based on the person's eating disorder (AN, BN, BED). It is important to note that, while this is based on her clinical expertise, we have very limited specific information as yet so this should be considered an educated guess. 



Read "Access to evidence-based care for eating disorders during the COVID-19 crisis" and "COVID-19 and implications for eating disorders"  


Read "Eating disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine: an overview of risks and recommendations for treatment and early intervention


Our friends at BEAT in the UK have also compiled a set of FAQs




We are here for you on the phone and through chat to offer support, information, resources, and referrals. 


NEDIC has teamed up with Canadian eating disorder experts to offer some of their preferred coping tools for the stress of the ongoing pandemic. Watch the ongoing video series!

This information is current as of October 27, 2020.  Information is changing rapidly, and this page will be updated periodically, so please check back. 

  • Support-Related

    • Are there online events or webinars? 

      Yes! Many clinicians and organizations are running online webinars or information sessions.

    • My programming has been suspended -- are there any supports that I can access from home?

      There are several online groups and programming that you may find useful during this time. Information about eligibility is available on their websites. 

      • Body Brave:  information about fall program offerings here. Please note that while support groups are open to anyone in Canada, treatment groups are limited to Ontario residents.
      • BridgePoint Center for Eating Disorders:  find out more about the recovery support helpline open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and about how to receive supportive and encouraging text messages here.
      • Danielle's Place:  virtual parent/caregiver support group meets the first Tuesday of every month. 
      • Eating Disorders Support Network of Alberta:  online support groups using GoTo Meeting.
        1.  Weekly drop-in support for parents/caregivers. The fee is $10 per session (may be reduced or waived - contact to discuss). 
        2.  Support group for women over 40 starting Wednesday September 16. The registration fee is $80 for the 10-session program.
        3.  Support group for adults (18+) who experience binge eating starting Tuesday September 29. The registration fee is $80 for the 8-session program.
        4.  Intuitive eating support group for adults (18+) starting Thursday October 22. The registration fee is $80 for the 8-session program. (Note: residents of BC and PEI are not eligible for this group.)

      • Eating Disorders Nova Scotia:  online peer support groups, individual mentoring, and monthly friends/family support groups
      • Hopewell:  online support groups using Zoom on Mondays and Tuesdays starting the week of September 21. The registration fee is $30 for the 6-session program. Details: https://www.hopewell.ca/supportgroups
      • Looking Glass BC:  online peer support groups are available every day of the week except for Saturday, with multiple meetings on Tuesday and Thursday.
      • Silver Linings Foundation:  online support groups accessible anywhere from Canada. 
        1.  Adult support group (18+) which begins Monday October 19. The registration fee is $100 for the 8-week program. Financial support on a case by case basis. Details here
        2.  Physiological effects of bulimia (18+) which begins on Tuesday October 20. The registration fee is $75 for the 4-week program.  Financial support on a case by case basis. Details here
        3.  Bi-weekly drop-in adolescent support group (ages 14-17) on Mondays. The fee is $12 per session. Financial support on a case by case basis. Parent/caregiver consent is required. Details here

      • Sheena's Place:  Groups open to Ontario residents only. Current program calendar here. Register for the fall session here. Spaces are limited.
      • The Instagram account covid19eatingsupport is a collective effort to offer HAES-based community care mealtime support to individuals living with eating disorders.


    • I find myself struggling more with my recovery during isolation. What can I do to distract myself?

      You may find some of these tools, activities, apps and workbooks to be useful in helping to manage anxiety:


    • My regular coping skills/strategies do not seem to be working -- what else can I try?

      • Journaling - it may be helpful to write down your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes it is enough just to get them out of your head and onto paper. It could make it easier to organize those thoughts and feelings and keep track of any changes.
      • Drawing - art can be a positive way to distract thinking or express moods and feelings. You can also try other art activities like origami
      • Mechanical Eating - it could be helpful to try shifting your mind's focus to get through your meal. So, instead of focusing on the meal itself, you concentrate on the actual process of eating, which is called mechanical eating. For example, it would mean you focus on lifting the utensil, putting it into your mouth, chewing, swallowing, and then repeating until you have finished the meal.
      • Mindfulness - practicing mindfulness can be very helpful. Tune into your senses and be in the moment -- smell the scents in the room, listen to the birds outside, look at a beautiful picture on the wall, focus on your breathing, etc. There are many different apps that are available to guide you -- it could be something to look into.
      • Talking - if you feel comfortable doing so, it may be helpful to talk and/or ask for support from your family or friends, when you find yourself struggling more.
      • Walking - you may find going for a little walk outside to be good for your mental health. Some people find getting some fresh air and taking in the beauty of nature to be a good distraction.
      • Disconnect - at a certain point, it may be unhelpful to continue following the news closely. Mindlessly scrolling through social media can reinforce negative feelings. Make sure to take breaks, and try to limit your time online if you feel that it is a problem for you. Look at news from reputable sources.
      • Recovery Apps - recovery apps can be useful tools -- they can be used to keep track of your thoughts/emotions/behaviours and they offer suggestions for coping strategies and skills to practice. If you are interested, two examples of apps you can look into are:
    • Blog posts

      If you’re feeling alone or isolated-- reading about other’s experiences and advice may help you feel more connected in your recovery journey. 



    • I am having a lot of anxiety or am feeling overwhelmed by the current situation. What can I do?

      • Being informed is important, but it is equally important you take breaks from the news and social media. Try limiting how much time you spend on social media and news or even talking about COVID-19. This is a comprehensive guide to mental health during COVID-19.
      • CAMH also has a few different resources on how to deal with stress and anxiety, and supporting others and talking to children about COVID-19.
      • NEDIC has a YouTube series in partnership with eating disorder clinicians. The series offers a variety of coping tools from different clinical perspectives. 

    • If I am having a moment of crisis, who can I reach out to?

      The wonderful individuals at each of these services would be happy to help support you:


    • I am the parent/caregiver of someone living with an eating disorder. What help is available to me? 

      Our friends at FEAST are a global support and information network for parents/caregivers of children with eating disorders. You can access their COVID-19 resources here

      NIED also does a lot of work with families in Canada. 


    • My program was closed due to COVID. Do you have any news on re-opening? 

      Many programs closed due to COVID; some were able to deliver services virtually. Some provinces have started re-opening, while other regions are still quite locked down. Programs are therefore still affected, and many will have extensive wait lists. If you are on a wait list or interested in starting a program, you may wish to reach out to the program directly to see if they have any updates. 

  • Food-Related

  • Provincial and Territorial Responses

  • Finance-Related

    • Where can I apply to receive financial support?

      This document discusses possible ways to receive support: Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan - financial support for Canadians and businesses. An update on the new Canada Recovery Benefit is available here

    • Are Canadians with an Eating Disorder and their caregivers eligible to take advantage of special programs from the Government of Canada?

      You can find relevant information on these websites:

      • Disability Tax Credit: the disability tax credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit that helps people with disabilities or their caregivers reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay. For more information, click here.
      • Registered Disability Savings Plan: the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) is a long-term savings plan to help Canadians with disabilities and their families save for the future. For more information, click here.
  • Travel-Related

    • Important travel advisories and restrictions related to COVID-19, from the Government of Canada.

    • If you have recently travelled internationally:

      If you are arriving from any international location outside of Canada within the last 14 days or have had close contact with a person ill with COVID-19, please self-isolate and monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough or difficulty breathing) for 14 days after you arrive back in Canada.


      Canadians are advised to avoid all non-essential travel, as Canada is closing its borders to non-citizens and non-residents, restricting international arrivals to four airports (Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, Montreal’s Trudeau International Airport, Calgary International and Vancouver International Airport) and requiring airlines to stop passengers who present with symptoms of the coronavirus from boarding. There are several exceptions to the travel ban, including immediate family members of Canadian citizens, foreign diplomats, airline crews and U.S. citizens. The restrictions will not apply to commerce or trade. Check for updated information on Canada’s travel advisories here.

    • Assistance Travelling Back to Canada

      To get the latest updates on the situation at your destinationhttps://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration


      Canadian abroad directly impacted by COVID-19 will have the option of applying for an emergency loan of up to $5,000 to help secure their timely return to Canada and to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return, contact: CAN.finances.CV19@international.gc.ca


      For all other consular emergencies, Canadians can contact the nearest Government of Canada office or Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email sos@international.gc.ca