Mental Health Awareness Week – Body Talk

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17th May 2019

This year’s Mental Health Awareness week, 13-19 May, is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation. The theme is ‘Body Image ‒ how we think and feel about our bodies’.

Explaining the impact of body image, the Mental Health Foundation states:

“Our thoughts and feelings about our bodies can impact us throughout our lives, affecting, more generally, the way we feel about ourselves and our mental health and well-being.” *1

Sharing the conclusions from the Executive Summary on their Body Image Report, the Mental Health Foundation states:

“Having body image concerns is a relatively common experience and is not a mental health problem in and of itself; however, it can be a risk factor for mental health problems. Research has found that higher body dissatisfaction is associated with a poorer quality of life, psychological distress and the risk of unhealthy eating behaviours and eating disorders.”

The data results from their 2019 research reveals the scope of the problem:

  • 1:5 adults (20%) felt shame
  • Over 1/3 (34%) felt down or low
  • 19% felt disgusted (in the last year) because of their body image
  • Amongst teenagers, 37% felt upset, 31% felt ashamed of their bodies
  • Over 1/3 (34%) of adults said they had felt anxious and 35% felt depressed because of body image
  • 1:8 (13%) of adults experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of concerns relating to their body
  • Over 1:5 (21%) of adults said images used in advertising had caused them to worry about their body image
  • Over 1:5 (22%) of adults and 40% of teenagers said images on social media caused them to worry about their body image

Whilst this highlights a sobering reality and presents the need for urgent action to address this as a key issue of concern, the report also has some encouraging news to share from their research. It was found that body satisfaction and a health self-appreciation was linked to better overall well-being and fewer unhealthy dieting behaviours.

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