Whilst at times it feels like there is so much WRONG with this world, something that I am pleased that we finally seem to be making progress on is opening up minds (and hearts) to understanding those with mental health difficulties. Indeed I know that mine won’t be the first (or I suspect last) account you come across this week highlighting the fact that this week in the UK is Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme this year is #bodyimage which is particularly close to my heart as the extent of my own body image issues in the past got so severe that it was directly linked to me being diagnosed and hospitalised with an Eating Disorder in my teens.
I was fortunate enough to receive treatment from specialists in London and that, alongside the love and care of my amazing family and my own determination helped me to make great progress in overcoming my issues – you can read more about my story here https://www.myrelationshipwithfood.com/my-story/
It’s because of this past that I feel so strongly about promoting not just increased understanding and support of ALL mental health issues, but especially those relating to improving body image – something that can negatively impact each and every one of us – indeed a YouGov survey conducted on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation in March 2019 found that 20% of UK adults felt shame, 34% felt down or low and 19% felt disgusted in the last year because of their body image – statistics that truly shocked me.
Something else that I was saddened to read was that there was a direct link, especially in teenagers, between social media and concern about body image – although I can’t say I was surprised.
But a change isn’t going to happen overnight and, just like making progress on any other issue (e.g. environmental concerns) it is going to take effort from ALL of us to achieve. So I thought I would share how I plan to contribute to improving body image – and hopefully give you some ideas for how you can to
- I’m going to encourage you, my readers, as well as my friends, family etc to question who and what they follow on their social media and whether it makes them feel bad about their body image. If it does, then unfollow them.
- I’m going to do the same when it comes to phone Apps, uninstalling the ones that cause more harm than they do good.
- Just as I encourage my young nephews to look beyond things such as race, gender and religion, I am going to do the same for physical appearance -hopefully helping them to learn that there are SO many other things to us all than the way we look. I’m also going to try and role model positive language about bodies as well as the things that I do in order to help foster my own positive body image – like trying to eat well and being physically active
- The final, and I think biggest commitment that I am going to make is that I am going to do as much as I can to ensure that the content and language I share across my platforms – be it my talks, demonstrations, events, social media or my website/blog – doesn’t contribute towards fostering negative body image
Those are my 4 commitments – I wonder what yours will be? Why not share them with me? E email to firstname.lastname@example.org or @myrelationshipwithfood on Instagram
Finally, if you or a loved one is struggling on anything to do with mental health then PLEASE, PLEASE do seek help – nobody should struggle alone – much more information on sources of support can be found on the Mental Health Foundation website here https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health or please talk to your GP
Sending you – every inch of you – love