Knitting for teen wellbeing
Inpatients in the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Eating Disorder Program are getting crafty to help with their treatment and improve their wellbeing.
For patients with eating disorders, undergoing treatment can cause high levels of mental health distress. During their hospital admission, they are supervised to eat and are monitored for an hour after meals.
To offer some distraction during this hour, patients are invited to take part in a knitting program. Participants are loaned knitting kits and given projects to work on tailored to their skill level.
Child and Mental Health Services (CAHMS) Consultation Liaison Service Clinical Coordinator, Karen Bradbury, says, “This project provides support by giving patients an activity that may help distract from their anorectic thinking, hence reducing their anxiety and distress after eating/gastric feeding.”
“As a flow-on effect, the reduction of their distress reduces the distress of other patients in the ward.”
Play Therapist, Kylie, has been introducing the program to patients on Adolescent Ward and has seen great success with many patients showing an interest in knitting. These knitted items can then be gifted to other patients in the Hospital, such as the tiniest babies in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and oncology patients in the Michael Rice Centre.
Karen says, “Other benefits would be giving a sense of generativity through the act of providing something to others, as well as a sense of mastery and a new skill that is functional, productive, valuable and easy to replicate at home on discharge.”
“Ideally, with new skills of mindfulness and distraction, the patients will develop new ways to manage their anxiety and therefore potentially develop another tool in managing their eating disorder or other mental health issues into the future post-discharge.”
Knitting project on Adolescent Ward
Adolescent Ward patient, Ashleigh, says when it was first suggested she try knitting during her Hospital stay, she was apprehensive about the new idea. She says, “I thought it was going to be a waste of time and I wasn’t going to be able to do it.”
After getting into the swing of it though, she has now breezed through multiple beanies and a scarf, many of which she has donated to other patients in the Hospital! Her next goal is to knit a blanket.
Ashleigh says knitting has helped with her treatment.
“It made me stop thinking about what I’ve just eaten and stop worrying about my meetings.”
She’s also carried on knitting when she’s at home and has even passed on her new skills to her family. “I’ve taught my dad how to knit so now we knit together while he watches the footy.”
Ashleigh encourages other patients to try out the knitting project, saying, “Definitely try it. Just give it a go, even if you think you can’t do it. It’s actually quite easy.”
Other participants in the program have felt the same way, with survey results showing that 100% found the program helpful in managing their anxious thoughts post meals and said they would recommend knitting to other patients.
Lauren Corena Fund
This program has been generously supported by the Lauren Corena Fund through our Arts in Health Program.
Mario Corena is a passionate advocate for young people experiencing mental illness and eating disorders. His daughter, Lauren, died over six years ago after spending much of her early adolescent years in the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Now, as her legacy, Mario has created the Lauren Corena Fund to help other young people in hospital and to keep Lauren’s spirit alive.
*Please note: The WCH is not currently accepting external knitting donations.Back to all news