The theme for this year’s #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek is body image. Whether we like it or not, how we feel about our personal appearance is closely linked with our self-worth, confidence and mental health. Last year, the Mental Health Foundation discovered that 30% of all adults have felt so stressed by body image that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
With social media a prominent aspect of modern life, people are under an enormous amount of pressure to meet seemingly impossible standards for how we look, how we act and even how we think about ourselves. While we’re huge advocates of the power of social media and its place in the world of digital marketing, we’re well aware of how harmful it can be to the self-esteem of those who use it.
Body image and its effect on mental health is an issue that hits close to home for us. Recently, we decided to take professional photos of our wonderful staff so we could show them off on our website. Think school photo day for adults. Unfortunately, when the photos came out, the majority of people were in some way unhappy with what they saw. Many people took this a step further and felt the need to edit their photos in order to feel confident about them being shared.
I was no different - looking at my own staff photo was an uncomfortable experience. There can be an unsettling disconnect between how you want to perceive yourself and how you really look. Not to mention the inevitable comparisons to the unrealistic images we’re constantly faced with in the media.
But when I looked at the photos of everyone else, I couldn’t understand why on earth they would want to change. They all looked beautiful, and perhaps more importantly, real, to me. Sadly, that’s one of the reasons that mental health issues relating to body image can be so stigmatised: it’s a highly personal and subjective experience. People just don’t feel comfortable talking about it.
Over the course of this week, we want to strike up a conversation that will improve the wellbeing of our own staff, apprentices, and anyone else out there who is affected by negative body image. Which, it turns out, is pretty much everyone.
Our aim is to make use of social media for positive reasons. To look behind our carefully curated online personas and celebrate what makes us all worthy of self-love. Each day, we’ll be giving our staff a different challenge to help us all on the road to acceptance. We’ll be highlighting what we love about ourselves, what we appreciate about each other, and we’ll even be taking part in a Jess Glynne inspired no make-up challenge on Thursday.
We’ll also be hosting ‘Tea and Talk’ sessions to create a safe space for discussion about the relationship between social media and self-esteem. We hope that by approaching body image issues with honesty, vulnerability and even a bit of humour, we might all be able to feel a bit more comfortable and confident in our own skin.
If you’d like to join us, tweet @BalticTraining and use the hashtags #BeBodyKind #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek #BodyPositivity and #SelfLove.