Client Experiences of Transitioning from Adolescent to Adult Mental Health Services while Battling Anorexia Nervosa: A Thesis Research

Transitioning to adulthood is a unique time
for many people. That age between 18-25 is an in-between – not a dependent adolescent, yet maybe not always
a fully independent adult either.
There are so many things going on at this
time of transition, all at the same time, and everything is different for
everyone – there’s really nothing that’s “normal”. That transition period for
emerging adults who are battling eating disorders can sometimes, but not
always, be even more difficult. For people with eating disorders who are
accessing services from our health care system this time may also mean a change
in service providers (like counsellors, psychiatrists, nutritionists, etc.)
which is an added stress. And with all the other change going on, maybe
stability might be more beneficial.
In B.C., eating disorders services change
from child and youth to adult at age eighteen. Also at eighteen people are
facing changes in multiple areas – like school (high school to
university/college), employment (maybe moving from part-time to full-time work),
living arrangements (sometimes moving away from home), and so on. Finding new
services during this time can be difficult and there can be waitlists and
service disruption – all of which can make it difficult to even bother
continuing with services at all.
There isn’t much research on this topic,
especially for eating disorders, especially about how it is for the people who
are going through these transitions. The goal of my study is to explore the
impact that transitioning from child and youth mental health services to adult
mental health services has on people battling anorexia nervosa in our province.
I’m hoping to gain an understanding of the experience of being an emerging
adult, navigating a complex mental health system, and all the while fighting an
eating disorder.
I think it’s important to understand the
contextual factors of emerging adulthood (all those changes) and how they are
impacting the transition as well. To look at this transition holistically is to
take into account all the effects that could be going on. I hope to find out
what helps and hinders transitions to continuing clinical care. Lastly my study intends to explore how people
using the services would dream up an ideal experience of transition that is
more needs-led (individualized) and not service-led (generalized).
I am still looking for participants to help
me with this study and share their stories. Your insight may help others who
have yet to go through this experience. My hope is this research can be used to
inform services and professionals to effectively support people battling eating
If you, or someone you know, may be
interested in participating please email
Carrie Bove is a third year Counselling
Psychology graduate student at Simon Fraser University. Upon completion of her
degree she hopes to continue to work as a counsellor in eating disorders
services or substance use services. She enjoys music and photography and hopes
to integrate these passions into her practice. Travelling is also on her “to
do” list.

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