Home

5 Ways to Promote a Positive Attitude Towards Body Image


The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness week is ‘Body Image’. As recognised by The Mental Health Foundation, we as a society can help to tackle anxiety and concerns surrounding body image through what children are taught in schools and by the way we talk about our bodies on a daily basis. With 3 children in every classroom having a diagnosable mental health disorder, it is clear that issues surrounding body image and other mental illnesses can begin long before adulthood. 

So, what can you do to help create a positive and healthy environment for young people? Firstly, it is important to understand what is meant by the term ‘body image’ and why there are concerns surrounding it. In this post, we outline a number of steps that you can take from a position of responsibility to help creative a positive attitude towards body image for young people. 

What is ‘Body Image’?

The children’s charity YoungMinds defines body image as “how we think and feel about ourselves physically, and how we believe others see us.”

Negative thoughts and feelings surrounding body image are particularly prevalent during adolescence and puberty. As our bodies undergo huge changes during this time, hormones are released that make us even more aware of how we look, as well as becoming more aware of other people’s bodies. While this is a completely natural process and happens to everyone, it can sometimes make young people feel out of control or anxious.

Image: Kent-Teach's School Engagement Officer Michelle at Women's Health Live 2019 which focused on the theme 'Love Your Body'.

How can you help?

Sometimes young people worry excessively about how they look. It’s important for them to be reminded that there is not just one type of beauty and that everyone has a different view of what is beautiful. There is not a right or wrong way to look. You can help by encouraging young people who are worried about their body image to:

1) Be kind to themselves. In today’s technology driven world, we are constantly presented with airbrushed and edited images of celebrities and influencers online and on social media. It’s important that young people know that photos are often digitally enhanced and are not reflective of reality.

2) Focus on the parts they like. We all have parts of our bodies that we are not entirely happy with or tend to complain about. Instead, try to get them to focus on the parts of their body that they do like. 

3) Spend time with positive people. It’s important to spend time with people who make us feel good about ourselves. You could even encourage them to write down the nice things people say about them and not just about how they look. Has someone said they’re funny? Intelligent? Kind? These are all redeeming qualities that they should be proud of. 

4) Practice what they preach. What would they say to a friend that was struggling with their body image and had issues surrounding how they look? They could write this down and repeat it to themselves if they start to have negative thoughts. 

5) Talk to someone they trust. Being able to talk freely in a safe space with someone that they trust, whether that be a family member, a close family friend or a teacher, can help them to open up about how they are feeling. 

Where to go for extra support

If you or someone you know is struggling with body image concerns, here are some helpful contacts and resources for support and guidance:

YoungMinds Crisis Messenger

  • Free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis
  • For urgent help text YM to 85258

Youth Access

  • Get advice and information about counselling in the UK, if you're aged 12-25. 

The Mix

  • Under 25s can talk to The Mix for free on the phone on 0808 808 4994 (13:00-23:00 daily), by email or on their webchat. 

Beat

  • If you have an eating disorder, or someone in your family does, Beat is the place you can go to for information and support.
  • Helpline number for under 25's: 0808 801 0711 (Daily 3pm-10pm)
  • Email: fyp@b-eat.co.uk

Anorexia and Bulimia Care

  • If you or someone you know is being affected by an eating disorder, you can ring the helpline on 03000 11 12 13 (option 1: support line, option 2: family and friends)

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

  • Information and advice for men on eating disorders. 

Sources: 

https://youngminds.org.uk/

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

Are you looking for more ways to raise awareness of mental wellbeing in the classroom? Take a look at this blog on Promoting Mental Wellbeing to Young People to help actively encourage awareness.

Comments are closed