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Mental Heath Awareness Week 2019

Everyone’s talking about it, and over 16 million people in the UK experience this illness.

We are, of course talking about Mental Health, a topic close to many of our hearts. 

Mental health problems can affect anyone, any day of the year and can be triggered by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

Being mentally healthy is about having the strength to overcome the difficulties and challenges we can all face at times in our lives – to have confidence and self-esteem, to be able to take decisions and to believe in ourselves.

In line with Mental Health Awareness Week and their chosen theme for the year on ‘body image’, we have provided some advice for those currently facing pressure to alter the way they look.

Why does body image matter?

 Almost half of 18-25 year olds said social media had cause them to worry about their body image. What can we do to reduce pressures that many of us are facing in modern society? 

Body image and self-esteem start in the mind, not in the mirror. They can change the way you understand your value and worth. A healthy body image and self-esteem are a big part of well-being.

So why does it matter? We are all intimately aware of the particular idiosyncrasies of our own body; its strengths and wonders and its limitations. No piece of technology that you will ever buy will match the complexity, sophistication and regenerative powers of your body.  

And yet… For too many of us, our bodies are sources of shame and distress. From an early age, we are bombarded with images that define what an ‘ideal body’ looks like.  Sometimes we have faced stigma or cruelty as friends and family have used how we look as a way to put us down.  

A healthy body image is more than simply tolerating what you look like or “not disliking” yourself. It means that you truly accept and like the way you look right now and aren’t trying to change your body to fit the way you think you should look. It means recognising the individual qualities and strengths that make you feel good about yourself beyond weight, shape or appearance, and resisting the pressure to strive for the myth of the “perfect” body that you see in the media or online.

Body image and self-esteem directly influence each other—and your feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. If you don’t like your body (or a part of your body), it’s hard to feel good about your whole self. The reverse is also true: if you don’t value yourself, it’s hard to notice the good things and give your body the respect it deserves.

How can you encourage a healthier body image?

 First things first. Treat your body with respect. 

It’s vital to remember that what you may not perceive as an ‘ideal body image’ might be someone’s opinion of the opposite. We have all been created to look different and hold our own unique qualities, as let’s face it, being the same would get boring after a while, right? 

But, how else can you maintain this? 
  • Eat well-balanced meals and exercise because it makes you feel good and strong, not to control your body and alter the way you look.
  • Notice when you judge yourself or others based on weight, shape, or size. Ask yourself if there are any other qualities you could look for when those thoughts come up.
  • Remember that everyone has challenges with their body image at times. When you talk with friends, you might discover that someone else wishes they had a feature you think is undesirable.
You’re not alone!

 Are you or someone close to you struggling with your mental health? Seeking help is often the first step towards getting and staying well. It's common to feel unsure, and to wonder whether you should try to handle things on your own.

But it's always ok to ask for help – even if you're not sure you are experiencing a specific mental health problem.

Mental health services are free on the NHS, but in some cases, you'll need a referral from your GP to access them.

There are also some mental health services that allow people to refer themselves.

If you want to find out more information on this topic or would like to reach out to somebody to discuss your mental state, the NHS is a great start. It can send you in the right direction for your nearest mental health support service, or if you want to talk to someone right away, the mental health helpline page has a list of organisations you can call for immediate assistance.  

You’re not alone in this fight to battle Mental Health! 

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