MISSION and PHILOSOPHY
Our mission is to change the way in which eating disorders are perceived and treated in pursuit of improved treatment outcomes.
Good treatment must show efficacy by demonstrating positive and sustainable outcomes which are measured without bias, and can be easily replicated. Statistical and other evidence reveals that status quo treatment has beget increasingly poor long-term outcomes. Our mission is to provide an efficacious service which improves the quality-of-life for those suffering from eating disorders (and their families); to generate significantly improved long-term treatment outcomes; to reduce prevalence rates; and save more lives.
This is eloquently summed up in the following statement by Andrews (1991):
Everyone knows the characteristics of good treatment: it should, for a defined condition, reduce symptoms, disability and, after recovery, the risk of relapse. Such progress should be easily and reliably measured... Furthermore, good treatment must be able to be manufactured or taught to others, so that it can be delivered to all who need it. Good treatment, widely applied, should have a demonstrable effect on the prevalence of a disorder, not just by preventing recurrence but by shortening the duration and severity of illness in those who are ill.
RED HOUSE aims to provide a service which differs from the options that are currently available to people battling with eating disorders. We understand that the current system is very limited in terms of the help and support it offers. While hospitals play an undeniably crucial role in saving the lives of those who reach a critical state, they provide little more than a “Band-Aid”, and are an unhealthy and inappropriate environment for long-term stays. Research has proven the dire need for better care and support outside of the hospital environment for both prevention of a critical condition, and to minimise hospital duration. This was the impetus for the creation of RED HOUSE. Conventional and current treatment regimes can be traumatic and disempowering, leaving sufferers feeling a loss of control which in the longer term leads to further entrenchment of the disorder. As Dr James Greenblatt (a psychiatrist himself) asserts, "Psychiatry is in a crisis". Psychiatry and the mental health system have fostered a dependence on the institutionalisation of hospital and psychotropic drugs, both of which have engendered extremely poor efficacy. There simply must be change. RED HOUSE draws heavily from Greenblatt's contemporary, integrative approach to treating eating disorders and other mental health issues.
Our mission statement is underpinned by our philosophy which is that there is a better way of treating and beating eating disorders than what the current system offers. This encompasses a number of beliefs and goals:
We believe that the process of recovery does not have to be such an unpleasant, challenging, and lonely battle. On the contrary, RED HOUSE makes it an enriching, empowering and even enjoyable journey. We believe you will benefit not only from the activities we offer, but also from the positive connections and friendships that this organisation intends to foster. Current mainstream treatment practices and protocols within the hospital system are often dictatorial, threatening, and punitive in their nature. We believe this disrespects the right to Self-determination as one of the Ten Basic Principles stated in the World Health Organisation's Mental Health Law. We believe it also contradicts type of treatment that is required for long-term recovery from an eating disorder. Threats and consequences for not following certain treatment regimes only incites negative motivation toward temporary recovery (i.e. short-term weight gain). It fosters a sense of powerlessness, provokes resistance and defiance in the struggle for control, and feeds the perpetual cycle of relapse and rehospitalisation. Conversely, RED HOUSE fosters the development of personal skills, positive motivation towards long-term recovery, and consequently, empowerment. RED HOUSE meets the World Health Organisation's definition of health promotion as "the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health".
RED HOUSE emphasises a philosophy that one size does not fit all. We believe that the narrow focus on pathology, calories, rules surrounding disordered behaviour, and enforced weight gain that have constituted standard hospital treatment for several decades only re-enforce obsessions and the identity of having an eating disorder. This belief is supported by the extremely high relapse rates engendered by this approach. RED HOUSE places the focus on general health, including education, and promotion of nurturance of the body, mind and self. This is done in a positive and supportive community-based environment which fosters social development.
Also stated in the World Health Organisation's Mental Health Law: Ten Basic Principles, is the "Provision of the Least Restrictive Type of Mental Health Care", which should be upheld in all circumstances. Least restrictive practices includes treating patients within the community, in preference to hospital, where possible. We believe hospitalisation should only be used in critical circumstances, and length- of-stays should be minimised. We firmly believe that health care organisations, including hospitals, should not be profit-driven, but rather, all profits derived from operation should be re-invested into improving services and health outcomes. Within the private sector patients equal profits and this creates controversy about whether long and recurrent admissions, which have become the "norm" within private mental health units, are in the best interest of the patient or the hospital. Fostering a dependence on the hospital environment is not in the best interest of the patient.
Self-determination and Least Restrictive Practice both involve providing choice. This includes choice about the type of nutrition used in the refeeding process, particularly once medical stability has been achieved. Further, we believe least restrictive practice includes minimising the use of pharmaceuticals which often cause negative side effects. This refers not only to psychotropic drugs but also to nasogastric feeding and synthetic oral supplementation. Nasogastric feeding should only be used in critical cases where re-feeding syndrome is implicated. Following medical stabilisation nutritious whole-food smoothies should be implemented in place of synthetic oral supplementation. Current mainstream practices and protocols deny these tenets to anorexic patients and in doing so are rendering low recovery and extremely high relapse rates. Our philosophy emphasises the use of whole foods rich in micro-nutrients, and natural remedies in preference to psychotropic drugs, nasogastric feeding and synthetic oral supplementation at every possible opportunity. At RED HOUSE this involves individual assessment and the guidance of a medical doctor and nutritionist.
RED HOUSE is built largely on a philosophy that epigenetics play a significant role in the development and perpetuation of eating disorders. While it is clear that trauma and psychological aspects are a trigger for many people's disordered eating it is becoming increasingly clear that eating disorders are actually caused by the epigenetic and neurological changes which occur as a result of altered eating. Traumatic and/or stressful life events may cause a person to restrict or binge eat which causes specific micronutrient deficiencies and epigenetic changes. These changes include the expression of specific genes which are responsible for the development and maintenance of an eating disorder. These changes can be reversed through individualised micronutrient therapy. While this will not dissolve those traumatic or stressful life events which in many cases were a contributing factor to onset, it will break the cycle of disordered eating, leaving the person in a clearer, more resilient state to tackle any underlying psychological issues. Once again, the extremely high relapse rates engendered by current hospital-based re-feeding programs, where specific and individual nutrient requirements are not met, prove that they are clearly not effective in breaking this cycle.
Lastly, we believe long-term recovery from an eating disorder requires an integrative approach. This refers not only to utilising whole food, rich in micronutrients as the primary medicine, but also incorporating activities and therapies which nurture the whole person. Where current "one-size-fits-all" programs and services focus on trying to correct a person's pathology and "normalise" what is "wrong" with them, RED HOUSE focusses on what is "right" about people - i.e. emphasising their individual strengths and talents. We have chosen not to incorporate mainstream therapies such has CBT, DBT, ACT and psychoanalytical processes, since the evidence-base prove that these approaches have poor efficacy in the treatment of eating disorders. We believe that these therapies have the potential to cause harm due to their intensive focus on the negative behaviours and thought processes associated with the disorder. Such an emphasis on pathology can often inadvertently reinforce behaviours and cement the identity of having an eating disorder. RED HOUSE offer a very different approach, providing informal therapies which are consistent with living a fulfilling, creative, social, healthy and joyful life. This includes enjoying healthy meals in a community-based social setting; learning to cook nourishing meals in a community-based social setting (which can then be translated to the home environment); creative and enjoyable expression and exploration of self through arts, crafts and music; enjoying the comfort and company of animals; learning to enjoy exercise as a social activity which nourishes the body, mind and soul; and experiencing the power of neuroplasticity through education, which infiltrates all of our workshops. This brings us full circle, back to the initial belief that the process of recovery does not have to be such an unpleasant, challenging, and lonely battle. On the contrary, RED HOUSE makes it an enjoyable, enriching, and empowering journey. There is a better way of treating and beating eating disorders than what the current system offers!