This week (13th – 19th May) is Mental Health Awareness Week and the Patient and Client Council (PCC) were privileged to speak to our former board member, and current Chairperson of mental health charity ‘Inspire’ - Professor Hugh McKenna.
The theme of Mental Health Awareness week is body image and its connection to good mental health. 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. A recent online survey carried out by the Mental Health Foundation and YouGov in March 2019 found:
This is clearly an issue of growing concern. Inspire, the mental health charity of which I am Chairperson, believes that everyone should feel comfortable and confident in their own skin. For those living with a mental ill health diagnosis connected to body image there are a number of therapeutic interventions and support on offer. Speaking to you GP about your concerns is an important first step.
For all of us, the route to positive body image is connected to building our self-esteem. This Mental Health Awareness Week at Inspire we are challenging everyone to make small changes to help foster a more accepting environment.
Below are some ways that you can do this:
Talk about how you feel:
Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and help build resilience when you are feeling low. It is not a sign of weakness – it is taking ownership of your wellbeing. Talk to you GP or find a local support group to help you express how you are feeling. Change Your Mind have a downloadable resource - Mental Health: Ask. Listen. Talk which you can find here – www.changeyourmindni.org/resources
Sometimes we need a little extra support to keep physically and mentally well. There are five simple steps to help maintain and improve your wellbeing – think of them as your 'five a day' for wellbeing. This includes being active. A healthy, regular exercise routine can boost your self-esteem and help you sleep and feel better. For more information on your 5 wellbeing tips, check out www.changeyourmindni.org/help-and-support
Surround yourself with ‘positive’:
Supportive family and friends can have a large boost to your confidence and help you deal with the stresses of life. Surround yourself with people who love and value you - this creates a positive atmosphere and will boost your confidence. Give a friend a call, or pop round to see your family for some fun and laughter.
With online and offline media being at the forefront of our modern world, it can be hard to ignore the headlines and pictures. Be mindful of the messages you see and hear in the media and how they stereotype. No one is perfect, but be kinder to yourself and take the time to appreciate what makes you… you!
Accept who you are:
We are all different; but it is healthier to accept who you are than to wish you looked differently, or you were like someone else. Feeling good about yourself, recognising and accepting who you are and what you are great at, all helps boosts your confidence. Building your self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn. Be proud of who you are.
For more information on Inspires support groups and services for people living with mental ill health contact www.inspirewellbeing.org/mentalhealth
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