Mental Health Awareness Week - Body Image
Mental Health Foundation launches a focus on Body Image for Mental Health Awareness Week 2019
Every year the Mental Health Foundation holds an awareness week on a specific mental health challenge. Last year it was stress and this years focus on body image is another example of an issue that affects children and adults alike.
As part of our commitment to support mental health awareness we held assemblies last week to challenge students to consider what their body image is and where they derive their influences from. The ubiquitous use of social media, if left unchallenged, can deliver a wide range of unrealistic body images to student devices and we need to encourage students, and adults, to reflect on the veracity of these images and the harm they can do to our self esteem and confidence.
We would like to share some resources with you to enable you to discuss this issue of body confidence and self esteem with your children.
New body image statistics
New online surveys were conducted by the Mental Health Foundation with YouGov in March 2019 of 4,505 UK adults 18+ and 1,118 GB teenagers (aged 13-19). The results highlighted that:
One in five adults (20%) felt shame, just over one third (34%) felt down or low, and 19% felt disgusted because of their body image in the last year.
Among teenagers, 37% felt upset, and 31% felt ashamed in relation to their body image.
Just over one third of adults said they had ever felt anxious (34%) or depressed (35%) because of their body image.
One in eight (13%) adults experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of concerns about their body image.
Just over one in five adults (21%) said images used in advertising had caused them to worry about their body image.
Just over one in five adults (22%) and 40% of teenagers said images on social media caused them to worry about their body image.
What can we do?
Clearly action is needed to build and promote positive body image and support good mental health and wellbeing in relation to our bodies. Everyone has a right to feel comfortable and confident in their own bodies and our report highlights key recommendations for:
- Effective regulation of how body image is portrayed.
- The need for commitment from social media companies to play a key role in promoting body kindness.
- Taking a public health approach to body image by training frontline health and education staff.
- Individually being more aware of how we can take care of ourselves and others in relation to body image.
Samaritans: If you need someone to talk to then Samaritans are available on 116 123 (UK) for free, 24/7. They are there to talk to, listen and they won't judge or tell you what to do.
Mind: If you are looking for professional support then Mind can help you with their Infoline. They can find information for you on what support is available in your local area. You can call them on 0300 123 3393 (UK), they are available Mon - Fri 9am - 6pm.
Beat: If you want to speak to a trained eating disorder helpline support worker then you can call Beat's helpline on 0808 801 0711 (UK) they are open 365 days of the year 12pm - 6pm Mon - Fri and 4pm - 8pm weekends and bank holidays.
CALM: If you want emotional support as a man or for a man in your life then you can call CALM's helpline on 0800 58 58 58. It is for men in the UK who are down or have hit a wall for any reason, who need to talk or find information and support. They're open 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year.
Maytree: If you are feeling suicidal or are having suicidal thoughts you can contact Maytree. Maytree have a house available for people at moments when they're feeling suicidal. They offer a free 4 night, 5 day stay for adults, with the opportunity to be heard in complete confidence, in a caring, safe environment. You can contact them on 0207 263 7070.
Urgent professional help: If you are concerned that you are developing a mental health problem you should seek the advice and support of your GP as a matter of priority. If you are in distress and need immediate help and are unable to see a GP, you should visit your local A&E.
You can find more resources to support Mental Health on our Mental Health page for parents at this link