Mental Health Awareness week - Your Health is your Wealth
Mental health awareness week takes place on 13th-19th May 2019. The theme this year is body image and focuses on how we look and feel about our bodies. Having body image concerns is not a mental health problem however, it can be a risk factor for mental health problems. Research has found that higher body dissatisfaction is associated with a poorer quality of life, psychological distress and the risk of unhealthy eating behaviours and eating disorders. Body image can be influenced by our relationships with our family and friends, how our family and peers feel and speak about bodies and appearance, exposure to images of idealised or unrealistic bodies through media or social media, pressure to look a certain way or to match an ‘ideal’ body type.
In March 2019, the Mental Health Foundation found that among teenagers, 37% felt upset, and 31% felt ashamed in relation to their body image; Just over one third of adults said they had ever felt anxious (34%) or depressed (35%) because of their body image; and one in eight (13%) adults experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of concerns about their body image.
Clearly action needs to be taken to promote body positivity and support mental health. The Mental Health Foundation has provided key recommendations for promoting a positive body image, including:
- Effective regulation of how body image is portrayed.
- Taking a public health approach to body image by training frontline health and education staff.
- Individually being more aware of how we can take care of ourselves and others in relation to body image.
At DAM, we’re keen to support our staff as much as possible when it comes to promoting a positive mental health and body image, and believe a large part of this involves enocuraging our colleagues to focus on their physcial health, first and foremost - think healthy body, healthy mind - which is why we organise full body health check-ups for all staff members, offering them the opportunity to visit our local private doctor during the working day to have all aspects of their health and body examined. Any issues flagged up will be reported back to the member, with a follow-up appointment then organised.
And with multiple staff members regularly participating in exercise, it is a topic we actively encourage discussion on, so that colleagues can share, tips, tricks and advice for keeping healthy and active – not simply ‘getting skinny’.
Outwith positive body image in the workplace, the Mental Health foundation have also provided some tips for individuals:
- If your body image is a significant cause of stress, or if you’re being bullied about how your body looks, consider talking to a friend, a trusted adult or a health professional.
- Spring-clean your apps on your smartphone.
- Notice the people and accounts you’re following on social media and be mindful of how you feel about your own body and appearance when you look at them.
- In our daily lives, we can all be more aware of the ways in which we speak about our own and other people’s bodies in casual conversations with friends and family.
- Find the best way that works for you to stay active
By raising awareness of mental health in relation to body image, we’re keen to not only encourage positivity of our staff, but also ensure they are healthy and as active as possible on a regular basis. After all, your health is your wealth.