This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 and the theme is focusing on body image. The Mental Health Foundation has conducted research into the effects that a negative body image can have on an individual’s mental health.

Results from an online survey highlighted that:

Adults surveyed

  • 20% felt shame due to their body image
  • 34% felt down or low due to their body image
  • 19% felt disgusted due to their body image

Teenagers surveyed

  • 37% felt upset due to their body image
  • 31% felt ashamed due to their body image

It is no surprise that social media has played a big part in the way teenagers feel about their bodies, with 40% . In this day and age where Instagram accounts are filled with idealised images of unattainable ‘beauty’ and the media shows nothing but celebrities who have been deemed ‘beautiful’ by the standards set by our society, can you blame them?. This constant stream of visual depictions of the ‘perfect body’ can naturally embed itself in the minds of teenagers and adults.

The report goes on to discuss the factors that can influence our body image, from the way family and friends talk about their bodies to the exposure to supposedly ‘ideal bodies’ in the media. It highlights that body image concerns are relatively common for most people and are not considered a mental health issue, but they can be a risk factor for mental health problems.

The report states: “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 impact that body image can have on a person’s mental health is clear. Negative environments and unthoughtful language used in the media or simply in conversations can have an adverse affect on young people and adults alike.

This Mental Health Foundation report breaks down the dangers of today’s world in relation to body image and makes recommendations on effective regulations that should be implemented and raises the issue of industry responsibility.

So this Mental Health Awareness Week, be mindful of the way you talk about body image, embrace your body, #BeBodyKind.

To read the full report click here

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