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Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

14th May 2019

It’s so important that we educate our young and ensure that we are equipping them with the language and tools to help themselves and others survive in a social media driven world that focuses on appearance, skinny beauty and perceived perfection. Through such early intervention, we can protect the mental and physical health of our future generations. 22% of adults and 40% of teenagers have said that social media has caused them to worry about their body image. Yet the world still continues to promote diet pills, skinny teas and "photo shopped" images of unrealistic ideals.

Body image is something that affects many of us and on a personal level, has consumed and sometimes continues to consume a lot of my own time, energy and experience. A lot of people take to social media platforms to promote their progress and inspire others in order to combat the appalling and distressing way that social media is used to promote unattainable body image. This week is a time to share stories and help those who may be struggling down what can be an incredibly dark and lonely path.

It has taken me many years to get to a point where I can proudly and openly own the fact that I have suffered from anorexia and the many mental health challenges that have linked to this, including depression and anxiety. It has taken me many years to get to a point where I can say that I am in an incredibly happy and stable place. Yes, there are days that are hard and where body image is a challenge but I now try to use my somewhat negative experiences as best I can to help and support others through my volunteer work with ‘SEED’ and by teaching my children about the importance of self-worth, self-awareness and confidence from within. I take to social media, not for some form of admiration or applause, but to promote the importance of encouraging our future generations to grow with pride for who they are, an understanding that beauty comes from within and with a kindness for themselves – a kindness for their minds and bodies.

Everyone has a right to feel comfortable and confident in their own skin and we need to take a whole-society level to address the threats of consumerism to our mental health. “Instead of striving towards a single body ideal, we should all, in our different and complementary ways – individually, professionally and corporately – strive to shape a society that embraces and champions the diversity of the human race. How our bodies change throughout our lives, during puberty, pregnancy and ageing, and how we see our bodies in terms of our family, cultural and gender identities is a fundamental part of who we are and what makes us valued members of our communities.” (Mental Health Foundation)

Sam Rosehill