Story of Hope – Recovery from Binge Eating Disorder with Jo Farmer 6 July 2023

Jo Farmer, Lived Experience Advocate and Mental Health Policymaker & Evaluator, shares her lived experience journey of mental illness and trauma, including Binge Eating Disorder.

Jo is now the founder of Jo Farmer Consulting which is focused on improving health and wellbeing, particularly for those who experience mental ill-health, trauma and marginalisation. Jo’s work has a strong focus on designing and driving systemic change and supporting the development of a health and social services system that puts people at the centre. Jo provides evaluation and policy consulting to a range of government agencies and not-for-profits, with a focus on improving lived experience leadership and trauma-informed practice in research and evaluation. She is also undertaking a PhD at the University of Melbourne, focused on improving research practice with young people with lived experience of trauma.

Jo has provided submissions to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, focused on her own experiences of accessing treatment in the Victorian system.

Jo’s story, based on her submission, was also featured in the Interim Report of the Royal Commission. She was a lived experience advisor to the development of the Clinical practice guideline for the Management of eating disorders for people with higher weights, and has contributed her lived expertise to a range of eating disorder projects. She is also currently a Board Member at Eating Disorders Victoria.

Originally from Scotland and now living in suburban Melbourne, Jo has witnessed services being overstretched and ill-equipped to cope with continually growing demand. She has experienced the postcode lottery which shapes the availability and affordability of treatment. She has noted responses she has received while trying to obtain a consultation with a treating psychiatrist:

‘I’m sorry but you do not fit our service eligibility requirements.’

‘Unfortunately, I am not currently taking new clients.’

‘My next available appointment is in three months.’

Ultimately, it took Jo nearly two decades to find an approach that supported her recovery, but she now lives a healthy, happy and full life, enjoying cooking delicious meals and spending time with her partner and their dog.

Read more about Jo’s story and her work