Rethinking the Eating Disorder Recovery Journey


In this session, we’ll explore novel ways Body Brave, a small charitable organization, is helping youth affected by eating disorders (EDs), which have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Wait times for hospital treatment have grown to 2+ years. To address this crisis, Body Brave has worked with Careteam Technologies to customize their award-winning, AI-enabled, web platform to create a comprehensive online Recovery Support Program. Launched in March 2021, our program provides youth with rapid access to a personalized care plan, essential resources and low barrier support services. We’ve onboarded more than 1000 people into the Recovery Support Program, increasing our onboarding capacity by 500%, while reducing our wait times from 2+ weeks to within 24 hours. There has been a consistent program engagement rate of at least 80% and a 43% increase in registration completion. We now have the evidence, the partners and networks needed to expand this service across the province and then across Canada. Join us to explore how existing models of care can be quickly adapted during crisis situations, how technology can be leveraged in novel, low-barrier ways and how to rapidly problem-solve in a community health-care setting.


Jeannine Smith
Jeannine is a Registered Dietitian with the College of Dietitians of Ontario and the Careteam/e-platform project manager at Body Brave. Prior to starting her academic studies to become a Dietitian, Jeannine was employed as a professional fashion model, an experience which ultimately motivated her to pursue a career in dietetics. While Jeannine enjoyed many aspects of her modelling career, her professional success within the fashion industry was conditionally tied to the size of her body, and the only way she knew how to meet these requirements was through an eating disorder. When her modelling agency gave her the option to lose her coveted agency contract or lose weight, Jeannine decided to leave the fashion industry altogether. Through this experience, Jeannine gained a new perspective on the impact of media influence on the general public and the dangers associated with encouraging restrictive body image ideals. When she decided to go back to school, Jeannine was drawn to nutrition and dietetic sciences as she was motivated to help others discover the freedom and love that accompany nurturing relationships with food and one’s body. Today, Jeannine is passionate about the prevention and treatment of eating disorders and hopes to use her knowledge and skills acquired from her dietetic training to increase public awareness and understanding of mental health and nourishing relationships with food.   

Karen Trollope-Kumar
Karen Trollope-Kumar is a family physician with over 30 years of clinical experience. In addition to her medical qualifications, she holds a PhD in medical anthropology. She is an Associate Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at McMaster University, and has been involved in medical education for many years, teaching medical students in her clinical practice, and later serving as Co-Director of the Professional Competencies program at McMaster. She’s also been involved with continuing medical education for family physicians at a national level. Major changes occurred in her life when her daughter Sonia became ill with an eating disorder. Karen realized then how many gaps exist in education, research and treatment of eating disorders. Sonia recovered from her illness after an arduous struggle. Karen and Sonia founded Body Brave in 2017, a non-profit corporation based in Hamilton aimed at providing support and advocacy for people with eating disorders. A second focus of Body Brave is to develop an e-platform that could serve as a hub for training and education about eating disorders. In Karen’s role as Program Director at Body Brave, she hopes to use her background and skills both to develop programming as well as to promote the e-platform.

Sonia Kumar-Seguin
Sonia Kumar-Seguin is the CEO of Body Brave, a community-based organization in Hamilton, Ontario, focused on providing treatment and support for people struggling with eating disorders. Sonia struggled with a serious eating disorder as a young adult, though she has now been well for 6 years. In 2017, she and her mother Karen co-founded Body Brave, which has expanded rapidly since that time. Sonia is also a member of the Canadian Medical Association “Patient Voice” committee, bringing the perspective of lived experience to the work of the CMA.

Key takeaways

  • An estimated 2.9 Canadaians struggle with an eating disorder. Covid-19 has caused a tremendous increase in eating disorders (waitlists have jumped up to 2 years)
  • Recovery Support Program. Individuals can access self guided recovery activities, self-assessment to match them with an appropriate level of care, live and on-demand support sessions
  • Some issues faced: increased number of registration requests, increased wait times to access services, lack of human and financial resources to meet increasing demand
  • Plan, Do, Act, Study cycles: provide a structure for iterative testing changes to improve the quality of a system. Promote the use of small scale iterative tests that help enable rapid assessment
  • What was learned: insight into client behaviors and needs, adopted a stepped-care model to diversify service offerings

Key Learning Objectives (defined by presenters)

Success to us would mean that participants are inspired to think in new ways about technology and about how to create programs that meet the needs of youth and families. We would also be excited if there were contacts we could make or organizations we could potentially connect with later and collaborate with. 
Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will gain a better understanding of how to adapt and modify existing models of care to suit crisis situations even when there are few resources available
  2. Participants will learn new ways that technology can be leveraged to offer person-centered mental health care using a stepped care approach
  3. Participants will walk away understanding the value of co-designing with youth and families using a rapid, iterative problem-solving model in a healthcare setting

Key Themes

  1. Stepped-care model
  2. Eating disorders 

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