Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 13th – 19th May, with the Mental Health Foundation highlighting the struggles people experience with body image and the risk factor this can present for mental health issues.
To support Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mental Health Foundation conducted two surveys, one of adults and one of teenagers, asking questions in relation to body image. Among adults, 34% said they have felt anxious and 35% said they have felt depressed in relation to their body image. The survey of teenagers found 35% “often” or “always” worried about their body image.
These results are very concerning. As well as the distress poor body image can cause, it can put people at higher risk for more serious mental health conditions, including eating disorders. While not the sole and direct cause of eating disorders, and not a factor for everyone, it is common for body image issues to play a role in an eating disorder’s development or to stem from one.
Educating people about body image can help to reduce the risk of eating disorders, particularly when it is targeted specifically to people who are at high risk of developing one. The Mental Health Foundation’s report calls for a public health approach to body image involving the training of frontline health and education staff. It also calls for effective regulation of how body image is portrayed, commitment from social media companies to play a key role in promoting body kindness, and awareness on an individual level of how we can take care of ourselves and others in relation to body image.
The Mental Health Foundation lays out its findings and recommendations in a public report, as well as giving guidance on how people can look after themselves. You can read more here.
If you’re struggling with your body image and having concerns about your eating, Beat is here to help. Our Helpline is open 365 days a year, 12pm – 8pm on weekdays and 4pm – 8pm weekends and bank holidays. Call 0808 801 0677 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.