Samantha Clement searched for help with her eating disorder when she moved to Hamilton, but she had trouble finding support services.
Clement says she was fortunate to find Body Brave, a new not-for-profit agency that helps individuals with body image issues, low self-esteem and eating disorders.
“The only other thing around is an outpatient program at St. Joe’s, but I wasn’t eligible at that time.”
Body Brave (bodybrave.ca) was founded by Sonia Seguin and her mother, Dr. Karen Trollope, to meet the needs of people who are struggling with body issues or eating disorders. It offers a variety of services from meal planning support and psychotherapy to peer support groups and workshops.
Located near Gage Park, it opened in December.
Clement says she was so impressed with Body Brave, she felt compelled to volunteer and help others with what she says is an increasingly common affliction among young adults. “There is a big push toward mental health awareness. Unfortunately, eating orders have been misunderstood.”
Clement says she was teased about her weight growing up and had symptoms of an eating disorder from age 13, when she started restricting her food intake – a sign of anorexia nervosa. Then at 15 she was bulimic.
“It took me quite a few years before I got to the point where I was ready to say I have a problem and I need to do something about it.”
Clement says when she was ready, her doctor told her she “wasn’t sick enough” for treatment because there are limited spots tiered based on patient symptoms like body mass index.
A lack of spending and focus by government means there aren’t enough services for people with eating issues, says Clement.
Body Brave tries to fill the gaps, says Seguin. It doesn’t offer treatment, but provides support and guidance. “For people on wait lists, we’re great because we can provide them with support before they get into treatment,” she says. Body Brave also helps those who are just out of treatment or just beginning to talk about their issues.
No diagnosis is required, she says, so anyone who believes they have a problem can reach out.
Seguin says she suffered from an eating disorder in her late teens and early 20s before getting well. After earning her master’s of economics, she worked six months as an economic analyst, but gave up her fledgling career to start Body Brave.
Body Brave has helped about 50 people in its first 10 months of operation. It has no salaried staff and is applying for grants. Some of the services provided, such as psychotherapy, are covered by OHIP, says Seguin, while a nominal fee is charged for other services.