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Mental Health Awareness Week 13-19 May 2019

The Mental Health Foundation are hosting Mental Health Awareness week between 13 – 19 May 2019. The theme this year is body image – how we think and feel about our bodies.

Having general concerns about your body image is not in itself a mental health problem. However, if these concerns manifest into something different it can be damaging to your mental health. Body image can be influenced by societal or cultural pressures or idealised through social media, with increasing pressure on people to attain an unrealistic ‘perfect’ body type.

The Guardian newspaper recently reported that some cosmetic surgery clinics will begin screening patients to identify if their desire to alter their appearance is due to mental health problems when assessing suitability for Botox.

While this can be seen as a step in the right direction, the medical director of NHS England, Professor Stephen Powis, says that it does not go far enough. He adds that ‘the bombardment of idealised images and availability of quick-fix procedures is helping fuel a mental health and anxiety epidemic.’

On 13 May 2019, the Mental Health Foundation with YouGov published the results of an online survey which asked over 6,000 participants to reflect on their body image in the last year. The survey revealed that 20 per cent of adults felt shame, 34 per cent felt down or low and 19 per cent felt disgusted. Just over 1 in 5 adults said that images used in advertising had caused them to worry about their body image and almost half of teenagers said images on social media had affected their body image.

The report recommends changes such as more effective regulation of how body image is portrayed in the media, increasing industry responsibility to promote body kindness, improving how public health and education approaches body image issues and promoting more self-awareness of steps we can take for ourselves and others.

At Miles and Partners Solicitors we welcome this report and support the Mental Health Foundation in the call for action across all levels of society to help us be kinder to our bodies and healthier in our minds.

We will be joining thousands of others by wearing green ribbons this Mental Health Awareness week to create a visible movement of support for ending the stigma related to mental health issues.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.