Latest news | 01 May 2024

Significant improvements to mental and physical health for people with an eating disorder treated at Wandi Nerida


Newly released independent clinical and economic evaluations of Wandi Nerida, Butterfly Foundation’s first community-based private hospital for eating disorders, demonstrate treatment success across mental and physical health measures with expected longer-term benefits

1 May 2024

Two years on, independent evaluations have proven the effectiveness of treatment at Wandi Nerida, Australia’s first dedicated private hospital facility for eating disorders. Western Sydney University has released the results of its clinical evaluation, and Monash University has also released its report on economic outcomes with both teams following participants’ treatment at the facility for up to six months post discharge.

Wandi Nerida is a 13-bed private hospital facility that operates under a residential Model of Care in a safe home-like setting. It is owned and operated by the Butterfly Foundation and provides a nurturing and healing environment for those most in need, delivering concentrated, person-centred treatment. The clinical evaluation endorsed the effectiveness of Wandi Nerida and its introduction of the B-FREEDT Model of Care© to Australia.

There were improvements in all main eating disorder symptoms and mental health outcomes, including a reduction of over 60% in eating disorder symptoms and behaviours, and improved mental health related quality of life.

Participants and their loved ones had been struggling with an eating disorder for an average of 9 years.

Parents and carers reinforced the findings, expressing their thanks to the team at Wandi Nerida. “It [Wandi] just was a life changer for us. [Daughter]’s alive now, and I honestly don’t think she would have been,” said Jessica*, the parent of a Wandi Nerida participant.

Over 90% of participants and carers expressed satisfaction with the quality of care, involvement and therapy at Wandi Nerida (the typical participant perception of the care they received was 5/5 for 13 out of 19 measures; and 4/5 for the remainder).

Lily*, a participant at Wandi Nerida, said that “Wandi is both so different to other treatment options, but the foundation is the same. Like, it’s the same psychoeducation groups and it’s the same treatment model in terms of food and nutrition and restoration and that kind of stuff. But the thing that really set it apart, for me personally was the people and the non-punitive approach and I think that that’s what made the difference.”

Therapy at Wandi was highly valued, with participants achieving meaningful and measurable positive mental health and quality of life outcomes. According to CEO of Wandi Nerida, Brian Mayahle, “We are very pleased with the initial results, noting that the Centre has only been open for two years, and results were only measured up to 6 months post-discharge”.

“It is expected that even more significant benefits will come from the ongoing maintenance of healthy behaviours and avoidance of relapse, and further research is required to assess the longer-term clinical and economic impact benefits from Wandi Nerida’s unique Model of Care,” he said.

The inclusion of staff with their own lived experience of an eating disorder was also found to be a critical component of treatment and care. “All these people with lived experience and they have them on every day. Because they have been through it themselves, you are able to speak to them and you feel heard. I never felt so heard and so understood in a facility like that ever before,” said Daphanie*, one of the participants.

Participants reported feeling comfortable, respected, and safe during their time at Wandi, and the facilities met all their needs. As participant Hannah* said, “Something that I needed without realising, was the being away from just everything to focus solely on recovery. … it was just liberating to be not a patient but a person… Being able to do normal everyday things and practice those things. Yeah, I guess it was just having a safe space. … I expected it to be like hospital, but it wasn’t, it was more like a home.”

Participants particularly valued and reported positive experiences of treatment components such as meal support, lived experience staff, individual therapy, group therapy, creative therapies, family sessions, exercise therapy, and equine therapy.

“I just felt relief. … because there was just… Because they [the staff] all knew what they were doing. They were specialists in that field and some of them had gone through it [an eating disorder] themselves. They were professional and, um, their approach. It was all those things put together that when I left her, I knew she was in the best hands,” said Rebecca*, the parent of a participant at Wandi Nerida.

“The very high participant engagement with the program is in contrast to the typical experience of people in an eating disorder program, where rejection of the program is much more common,” said Brian. “As a result, we at Wandi Nerida believe that the longer-term outcomes (maintenance of healthy behaviours and prevention of relapse), will be much more favourable and positive for the Wandi Nerida alumni.”

The economic evaluation also recognised the improvements in quality of life. However, it could not evaluate the longer-term benefits from the program due to not yet having the data on the maintenance of healthy behaviours and prevention of relapse. As a result, and given the high cost of the program, it did not recommend implementation at the population level, but recommended further research to identify the correct target population.

© The B-FREEDT Model of Care is copyright of Butterfly Foundation

For more information about the evaluation, visit:


*Pseudonyms used

Media Contact

Harriet Potter, Communications Manager, Butterfly Foundation | 0451 837044

Editor and producers note: Please include the following Helpline details in all media coverage and refer to the Mindframe Media guidelines for safe reporting on eating disorders.

Help and Support

Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues is encouraged to contact:

  • Butterfly National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 (1800 ED HOPE) or
  • Eating Disorders Victoria Helpline on 1300 550 23
  • For urgent support call Lifeline 13 11 14