Early intervention refers to the identification of eating disorder symptoms and implementation of support and treatment for a person as soon as symptoms are recognised. This also relates to the early identification and response to re-emerging symptoms for someone who has recovered from an eating disorder. Its aim is to minimise the severity and duration of the disorder and to reduce its broader impacts.
Early intervention can reduce the impact of the eating disorder through interventions for identified at-risk populations, people experiencing an eating disorder for the first time, and people experiencing indications of a relapse or recurrence of illness.
Successful early identification and intervention requires clear access pathways and a coordinated approach suited to the individual’s life stages and situation. It also takes into account the impact of environmental and social factors on mental health and wellbeing. Early intervention involves a range of health and other sectors, carers, advocates and families, and requires appropriate services accessible by well-supported referral pathways (Australian Government Department of Health, 2011).