The forthcoming week (13th to 19th May) marks Mental Health Awareness Week. This year’s theme, set by the Mental Health Foundation, is raising awareness about body image and how we think and feel about our bodies.
The well-documented statistics on mental health problems as they impact children and young people in Scotland are stark and speak for themselves, with more individuals than ever seeking help. A contributor to this is around the issue of body image.
Studies have found that body dissatisfaction can start as young as six and lead to severe anxiety and depression. A recent report from the Scottish Government noted that many young girls in Scotland report being “unsatisfied with their physical appearance”, often trying to meet the unrealistic standards as seen on social media.
The Scottish Government announcement that school pupils are to be coached on how to use social media healthily is therefore to be welcomed.
The cost advantages of prevention and early intervention programmes such as this when it comes to mental health should not be under-estimated. Educating children and young people on their mental health and wellbeing is critical, building up emotional resilience,
Much has clearly been done, but there is still much work to be done to ensure Scotland’s children and young people with dissatisfaction over their body can get the right care, in the right place and at the right time to prevent this potentially escalating into a serious mental health disorder.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition:
Tom McGhee, Chairman, Spark of Genius
Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive, Who Cares? Scotland
Stuart Jacob, Falkland House School
Niall Kelly, Managing Director, Young Foundations
Lynn Bell, CEO, LOVE learning