Looking Glass Foundation opens and hopes to 'break the back' of eating disorders

WATCH (above): Young British Columbians struggling with an eating disorder now have more help battling the disease – thanks a new eating disorder facility that opened its doors today. Grace Ke reports.

Young British Columbians struggling with eating disorders will have more help battling the disease after the opening of a new facility in Vancouver today.

The Looking Glass residence provides support to young people who need to break the cycle of an eating disorder.

“Eating disorders end up being medical but they don’t start there,” says Deborah Grimm, past president and founder of The Looking Glass Foundation.

When residents enter the facility, which has 14 beds, they are medically stable but require intensive, structured therapeutic care, Grimm says. The Looking Glass offers a holistic treatment approach that combines group and family therapy, meal support, guided recreation activities, psychiatric and medical care.

People come to the residence for about three months before going on to a program in their community.

“This program is a home away from home across the province,” Sarah Bell from Children’s and Women’s Mental Health Program.

“It provides a support and tools for those who suffer with eating disorders to build confidence in themselves and others, to build strength in the bodies and minds, and find healthy ways to cope.”

Originally known as The Woodstone Residence and located on Galiano Island, The Looking Glass Foundation for Eating Disorders first launched this specialized treatment program in 2011 and was the first of its kind in Canada.

WATCH: The Looking Glass Foundation opened the doors to their new facility. Afternoon’s Lynn Colliar and Squire Barnes catch up with co-founder and past president Deborah Grimm about how the foundation has grown.

Last year, the Provincial Health Services Authority assumed responsibilities for operations in collaboration with The Looking Glass Foundation, and transferred the program to Vancouver.

“From prevention to the earliest intervention, to support and recovery in all of its forms, and to aftercare and sustained relapse prevention — it is a community that cares that will actually break the back of this disease,” says Stacey Huget from The Looking Glass Foundation.

For Riley Humphrey, she knows firsthand what the Looking Glass can do. She struggled with anorexia for 10 years and it wasn’t until a medical exam revealed how much she had harmed her body that she went to the residence for help.

“I was at risk for a heart attack just walking to work… ultimately my life expectancy had been dramatically shortened,” Humphrey explains.

“When I heard these results I knew that I needed more help than outpatient treatment could offer and I applied to The Looking Glass Residence.”

She says although the three and half months she spent at the facility were challenging, the experience was also filled with joy, hope and excitement for the future.

The foundation has helped more than 100 young people since 2011 but their care has touched many more.

“The rates of eating disorders are staggering… and for each person impacted by an eating disorder, it impacts about 250 people around them,” Grimm says.

~ with files from Grace Ke


© 2015 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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