Mental Health Awareness Week - Body Talk

17th May 2019

This year's Mental Health Awareness week, 13-19 May, is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation. The theme is 'Body Image ‒ how we think and feel about our bodies'.

Explaining the impact of body image, the Mental Health Foundation states:

"Our thoughts and feelings about our bodies can impact us throughout our lives, affecting, more generally, the way we feel about ourselves and our mental health and well-being." *1

Sharing the conclusions from the Executive Summary on their Body Image Report, the Mental Health Foundation states:

"Having body image concerns is a relatively common experience and is not a mental health problem in and of itself; 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."

The data results from their 2019 research reveals the scope of the problem:

  • 1:5 adults (20%) felt shame

  • Over 1/3 (34%) felt down or low

  • 19% felt disgusted (in the last year) because of their body image

  • Amongst teenagers, 37% felt upset, 31% felt ashamed of their bodies

  • Over 1/3 (34%) of adults said they had felt anxious and 35% felt depressed because of body image

  • 1:8 (13%) of adults experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of concerns relating to their body

  • Over 1:5 (21%) of adults said images used in advertising had caused them to worry about their body image

  • Over 1:5 (22%) of adults and 40% of teenagers said images on social media caused them to worry about their body image

Whilst this highlights a sobering reality and presents the need for urgent action to address this as a key issue of concern, the report also has some encouraging news to share from their research. It was found that body satisfaction and a health self-appreciation was linked to better overall well-being and fewer unhealthy dieting behaviours.

In their recommendations on how to improve the way we think about our bodies, the Mental Health Foundation makes the following suggestions:

There needs to be:

  • Effective regulation of how body image is portrayed

  • Commitment from social media companies to play a key role in promoting body kindness

  • A public health approach to body image by training frontline health and education staff

  • Awareness building to encourage individuals to be more aware of how we take care of ourselves and others in relation to body image

For further information on the various policy and personal recommendations visit the following website:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

Spiritual support

Scriptures which affirm you the way you are:

  • Psalm 139:14 ‒ Believe that God was intentional when He created you. Know that nothing about you is a mistake.

  • Proverbs 31:30 ‒ Highlights what God values in a woman.

  • 1 Samuel 16:7 ‒ Realise that God looks at the heart, not outward appearance.

  • Luke 16:15 ‒ We may seek approval from others, but God's values are different to ours.

  • 2 Corinthians 4:16 – Even if you are suffering with an illness or disability, understand that your spirit can be renewed even if your body is impaired or your health fails.

  • 1 Timothy 4:8 – Get a healthy perspective regarding physical fitness by not prioritising it over spiritual well-being.

  • 1 Peter 3:3-4 ‒ Understand that no matter what is achieved physically, it is the heart that is precious to God.

Celebrate who you are in God. "... for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are your works, and my soul knows very well." Psalm 139:14

Resources

The British Union Conference (BUC) Health Ministries department has produced the following resources on Mental Wellness:

  • Body Beautiful – A Concise Book of Health for Teens

  • A Sound Mind – Thinking Your Way to Vibrant Health

  • Healing Hearts Restoring Minds – The A-Z of Emotional Well-being

  • Stress – How to Handle the Pressure

  • Brain Health – How to Handle Your Head

These can be purchased from the BUC office or the Stanborough Press.

An additional resource is:

  • The Mental Wellness Handbook – Supporting Churches In Raising Mental Health Awareness and Encouraging Emotional Healing. This is available for purchase from the Health Ministries department at the BUC.

*1 https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/body-image-report/exec-summary


[Sharon Platt-McDonald, BUC Director for Health, Women's Ministries and Adventist Community Services]


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