Celebrating body positivity this Mental Health Awareness Week

This week (13-19 May) is Mental Health Awareness Week, when we raise awareness of the issues surrounding mental health, and try to break down the stigma around mental health issues.

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF), this year, the theme of the week is Body Image, looking at how we view and feel about our bodies.

The MHF found that 30 per cent of adults have felt so overwhelmed and stressed by their body image or appearance that they felt unable to cope.

This year’s theme hopes to promote body positivity, to enable people to feel more comfortable in their own skin.

Body image can have a huge impact on mental health, affecting confidence, self-esteem, effective communication and wellbeing.

Different factors can have an effect on body confidence, including disability, age, race, and gender. Often, the lack of representation in mainstream media can have a massive impact on body image.

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💚 #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek starts today! . . 📊 We commissioned an online survey of 4,505 UK adults aged 18 and over to mark the launch of Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, for the theme ‘Body image – how we think and feel about our bodies’ #BeBodyKind . . ❕We found that … . 🔸 Just over one in eight UK adults (13 per cent) have experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of concerns about their body image. . 🔹 Just over one third of UK adults have felt anxious (34 per cent), or depressed (35 per cent) because of concerns about their body image. . 🔸Almost one in five UK adults (19 per cent) have felt “disgusted” because of their body image and one in five (20 per cent) said they had felt “shame” because of their body image in the last year. . 🔹 One in ten women (10 per cent) saying they have self-harmed or “deliberately hurt themselves” because of their body image. . 🔸 A quarter of men (25 per cent) said they have felt depressed because of concerns about their body image. . 🔹One in five people (20 per cent) aged 55 and above have said they have felt anxious because of their body image. . 🔸 Just over one in five (22 per cent) of all UK adults and almost half (46 per cent) of 18-24 year olds said images on social media had caused them to worry about their body image. . . 💻View full report at mentalhealth.org.uk/publications . . . . . . 💚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. . . 💚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.

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Different aspects such as public perception of disability, discrimination and stigma can also have a huge impact on body positivity, and can negatively affect existing mental health problems, or be the root cause of issues.

Everyone should be able to look in the mirror and like what they see, and tackling the inaccurate perceptions surrounding mental health and disabilities is one of the key ways to spread body positivity within the disabled community.

GET INVOLVED

This year, there are many ways to get involved with Mental Health Awareness Week.

You can use the hashtag, #BeBodyKind, with a picture or memory of a time you felt comfortable in your own skin, to promote positive body images and self-love, and spread awareness about the week.

You can also wear a green ribbon – the international symbol for mental health awareness – to show your friends, family and colleagues that you’re there to have an open and honest discussion about their mental health if they would like.

To mark this week, why not reach out and speak about anything that’s troubling you, and offer the same to others. Talking about mental health and body image reduces the stigma, and normalises conversations about mental health, which can, ultimately, save lives.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, and would like support, there are many charities and organisations that can do so. Get in contact with the Mental Health Foundation, Mind, and Rethink.

How are you celebrating #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek? Let us know on Twitter and Instagram.