For annual Mental Health Awareness Week from 13-19 May, this year Tower Hamlets Council and NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are raising awareness around the theme of body image – how we think and feel about our bodies. Every year the campaign, led by national charity the Mental Health Foundation, aims to raise awareness, promote positive mental health and wellbeing, and address mental ill-health issues.
The Mental Health Foundation has found that 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 241 so they are looking at body image issues across a lifetime – including how it affects children and young people, adults and people in later life.
Body image issues are not just felt by young people and can affect any of us at any age. The foundation found through recent research that 30% of all adults have felt so stressed by body image and appearance that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope2. That’s almost 1 in every 3 people.
Dr Sam Everington, a local GP and Chair of NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “If you spend a lot of time worrying about a specific part of your body, comparing your appearance to others or covering up flaws other people don't notice, it may be a sign of a body image disorder. Negative thoughts and feelings about our body can lead to varying degrees of anxiety, depression or even an eating disorder.
“It can be very difficult to seek help for body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), but it's important to remember that you have nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. Seeking help is important because your symptoms probably won't go away without treatment and may get worse.
“I urge anyone who is experiencing negative thoughts about their body, especially if they are impacting on their daily life, to book an appointment with the free and confidential NHS Talking Therapies service on 020 8475 8080, or with your GP.”
John Biggs Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “Good emotional health and wellbeing is important for everyone to thrive at any age. We know how important it is to support young people in the early stages of their development so they can achieve their full potential.
“That’s why we commission a range of services that work with schools and families to address mental and emotional health.”
The council and its health partners offer a range of specialist services in schools, the community and workplace.
Tower Hamlets has been chosen as a trailblazer site for a national project to improve the mental health of children and young people. Announced in December 2018, the borough was chosen by the Department for Education and the Department of Health because of its well established programmes supporting schools around mental and emotional wellbeing.
It will fund dedicated school Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs), training to establish senior mental health leads and reduced waiting times for accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) treatment. It could see support given to up to 1,000 additional children in Tower Hamlets a year.
Visit the Mental Health Foundations’ website for more information on Mental Health Awareness Week.
You can raise awareness of the #Bebodykind campaign by taking part in the body image challenge.
Simply post on a picture on social media of a time or place when you felt comfortable in your own skin, from now or even five years ago. Be sure to use the hashtags #BeBodyKind and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.
For more information on BDD, including the treatment options available and a list of support groups, visit the page on body dysmorphic disorder on the NHS website.
- Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE. (2005). Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62 (6) pp. 593-602. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.593.