3 months ago

The 13th of May to the 19th of May is Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme this year is based on ‘Body Image’. Mental health doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to each and every one of us.

Mental Health Awareness Week aims to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health and help those suffering in silence to seek support. Mental health problems are a growing concern, according to the mental health charity Mind, 1 in 4 people in the UK experience mental health problems each year. The chances are you will know someone with mental health problems.

mental health awareness week

It’s important to check in with friends, family and colleagues not only during Mental Health Awareness Week but at all times of the year.

Do you have a friend who keeps cancelling plans? A family member who is overeating or under eating? A pupil who keeps missing school? Instead of feeling frustrated or angry, check that they are ok. Ask if there is anything you can do to help. Sometimes a listening ear can make the world of difference.

Why Does This Years Theme Focus on Body Image?

Mental Health Awareness Week explores how we feel about our body and the impact it can have on how we feel and see ourselves. According to research from the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 5 people feel shame over their body, an issue which is even bigger amongst teenagers.

Teenagers have grown up surrounded by technology, where it’s easy to log online and get sucked in by a false reality. We see photoshopped and airbrushed images, people living their ‘best lives’ and often overlook the fact that people only put online what they want the world to see.

young girl with low self esteem looking in mirror

People don’t post online about the weekends they spend binge watching Netflix while eating junk food. The times they’ve cried over needing to complete an essay. Or the problems they are having in a relationship. Life is an emotional rollercoaster, we can’t expect everything to go well all the time.

Although body image itself isn’t a mental health illness it can lead to depression, anxiety, anorexia, bulimia and other illnesses. Mental Health Awareness Week seeks to make everyone aware of the detrimental effect which mental illnesses can have on our daily lives.

The Media and Body Image

The media sets unrealistic expectations for young people. Often or not the media portrays ‘false body image’ ads which have been ‘touched up’ to hide minor flaws. The media shows us images which we can not possibly live up to, nor should we try to.

Other Contributors to Mental Health Illnesses

There are so many other contributors to mental health illnesses. Too many to cover all of them but here are some of the most common situations that might affect your mental health:

  • Financial struggles
  • Physical health
  • Stress
  • Unemployment or losing your job
  • Loneliness
  • Childhood trauma
  • Grief
  • Work overload
  • Exam stress

Knowing When to Seek Help

Seeking help is one of the biggest steps to recovery. This may seem daunting and you might not know who to turn to for help. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness but instead, it shows true strength. Women and particularly men often disguise their struggles.

If you have been feeling particularly low beyond just having a bad day then it might be time to speak to a professional. Are you struggling to cope with your feelings and emotions? Are you getting little pleasure from life?

Mental illnesses come in all shapes and sizes and it’s not always easy to tell because many people choose to mask the darkness that they are feeling deep inside. It’s important to remember that even when someone is smiling on the outside, we don’t know how a person is truly feeling.

When deciding to take the first step to recovery and seek help you can speak to the following:

Saying you’re fine when really you’re not is something that needs to stop. We need to remove the social stigma surrounded by mental health. Many campaigns are supporting the challenge and a positive change is being made.

Remember it’s ok not to be ok!

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