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New research shows how body image affects mental health

Wednesday 22nd May 2019
The Mental Health Foundation has published its report on body image and how it affects the mental health of people in the UK.
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While there are many different elements that cause mental health problems and feelings of distress, one of the main culprits in the UK is body image. To uncover just how much of an issue this can be, the Mental Health Foundation has published a new report, entitled ‘Body image: How we think and feel about our bodies’.

It is fairly well-known that having body image problems, while not a mental health problem in itself, can lead to feelings of distress and potentially lead into a range of other disorders. To find out more about how it affects people, the Mental Health Foundation surveyed over 4,500 adults and more than 1,100 teenagers.

The results showed that one in five UK adults has felt some kind of shame about their body in the last year. In addition, 34 per cent said they’d felt down or low because of their body image, and 19 per cent said it had made them feel disgusted.

Meanwhile, more than a third of adults (34 per cent) have felt anxious at some point because of their body image, while 35 per cent have felt depressed for the same reason. Even more worrying, 13 per cent of adults have experienced suicidal feelings due to how they perceive their bodies.

So, what is causing all of this? Among adults, 21 per cent said images in advertising led them to feel bad about their bodies, while 22 per cent said the same thing about social media. Teenagers were even more affected by social networks, with 40 per cent saying they had caused them to worry about their body image.

To help deal with this, the Mental Health Foundation has published guidance. It recommends frontline health practitioners and the early years childcare workforce should be trained on how parents and carers can provide positive influence to a child’s feelings about their body, for example.

Written by Angela Newbury

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