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Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living

What is Mental Health Awareness Week? Why 2019’s theme is body image, and how to get involved

Date: 16/5/2019
Summary: Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place across the UK to talk about the problems and stigmas around talking about and diagnosing mental health issues.

As one in four people in the UK are said to be suffering with a mental health condition, many Britons are saddled with the looming issues of anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems, but struggle to find the help they need.

Mental Health Awareness Week is exactly what it says on the tin: a campaign to raise awareness around mental health problems affecting millions of people in the UK today.

The initiative began in 2001, and is ran by the Mental Health Foundation.

Each year, the charity sets a theme around an issue affecting people with mental health issues across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

And this year, the foundation is focusing on body image.

According to the statistics gathered by the charity and polling website YouGov, the way we feel about our body and looks is impacting our mental health.

According to the charity’s research, one in five of the 4,505 adults surveyed (20 per cent) felt shame over their body image.

Just over one third (34 per cent) felt down or low about the way they looked, while 19 per cent felt disgusted because of their body image in the last year.

And concerningly, one in 8 adults said they felt suicidal because they were so unhappy with how they looked.

The issue is an even bigger concern for teenagers.

Over a third of teenagers from the UK’s most digital generation (37 per cent) felt upset about their body image, while 31 per cent felt ashamed of their body image.

The jury is out on whether social media is having a worrying impact on wellbeing.

But in 2016, a study carried out by the University of Pittsburgh found a correlation between time spent scrolling through social media apps and negative body image feedback.

Although the source of the anxiety may not be definitive, its ramifications are clear.

Feeling unhappy about our body image can lead to issues with anxiety and depression, as well as eating orders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa.

Beat, an eating disorder charity, says approximately 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder.

Around 25 per cent of those affected by an eating disorder are male.

Sarb Bajwa, chief executive of  The British Psychological Society said body image is a “policy priority” in 2019.

He said: “Body image is an important subject – not least for children and young people, whose wellbeing is the society’s policy priority for 2019.

“Worries about how we look can impact our self-esteem and confidence, and the media has a strong influence on what we think a ‘normal’ body looks like.”

If you want to join the likes of Prince William, Stephen Fry, Jameela Jamil and Alesha Dixon in supporting the cause, there’s plenty of ways to get involved.

Volunteers can host their own tea and a talk or curry and chat event to raise cash.

Those who are more musically inclined are invited to host an MHF Live event.

The foundation has starter packs for those wishing to put on a gig on behalf of the Foundation.

Those who want to support the charity but don’t have the time to commit to grander plans can buy green ribbon pins to support the cause.

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 13-19 May 2019.

Source: i news 


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