It’s Mental Health Awareness Week (13-17 May) and this year the focus is body image, how we think and feel about our bodies. Research carried out by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.

A survey of more than 3,000 young people carried out in schools across East Sussex in 2017 found:

  • 56% of girls and 23% of boys aged 14 and 15 years old said they worry “a lot” or “quite a lot” about the way they look
  • 28% of girls and 10% of boys aged 14 and 15 years old reported not being comfortable with the way they looked as a barrier to doing more exercise
  • 30% said they had been bullied for the way they look

The East Sussex School Health Service work with schools to deliver the #GOALS programme and offer healthy lifestyle support for young people aged 11-18. By working with schools, families and children we can support a healthy understanding of body image at an early age. We can provide tools to help themselves and others so that future generations feel comfortable speaking about body image and mental health.

If you are struggling with your own body image or want to support someone you know the Mental Health Foundation have published a list of tips for individuals to help you improve how we feel about our bodies and help us to protect, promote and maintain a positive body image throughout our lives.

You could also check out these great videos about body image made by the people over at Rise Above.

If you are aged 11-19 and are worried or concerned about a health issue and need advice you can text the ChatHealth service on: 07507 332473. You can text the team about anything: exam stress, if you are feeling depressed or sad, sexual health or body image concerns, healthy lifestyle advice or if you feel anxious or worried about anything. The number is monitored by the School Health Service, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. The service can also offer individual face-to-face support for children and young people on a range of health and wellbeing issues.