May 13, 2019

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, taking place from Monday 13th to Sunday 19th May 2019, is around Body image – an issue that can affect any body and anybody.  

At The Defence Works, we’re proud to be supporting the Mental Health Foundation in raising awareness for Mental Health week.

As an organisation specialising in cyber security awareness, we are the first to recognise that cyber platforms can play a huge part in impacting upon mental health. We’re a people-focused company, with a mission to make employees the strongest defence against cyber-crime. So, it’s only right that we do our bit to help raise awareness of mental health this week where, together, we can all make everyone their own strongest defence against body image and mental health issues.

Why is this a concern?

Times are changing.  Media evolves, perceptions evolve and so does mental health.  It’s no surprise that our bodies will continue to evolve and change, so it’s imperative that we understand our role in helping to shape an inclusive culture, where we help ourselves and others feel comfortable in their own skin, no matter what we’re going through.

The advancement of technology brings the continuous development of social media platforms, editing software, and filters. From an early age we are bombarded with images of “flawless” and “perfect” bodies which society then deem as “ideal bodies”.  Although we may think that this problem only exists for young girls and women, we shouldn’t be fooled, as body image is an issue that stems across all genders, ethnicities, sexualities and ages.

Have you ever scrolled through a social media platform and caught yourself comparing edited and angle-perfected images with your own body? It’s a really dangerous habit. Nonetheless, more often than not, people have a picture in their head of what their body should look like – and this is where the problem lies. In 2018, it was reported that “30% of all adults have felt so stressed by body image and appearance that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.  That’s almost 1 in every 3 people” – Mental Health Foundation.

Becoming obsessed, stressed or worried about body image has a direct effect on an individual’s mental health, and may result in actions such as skipping meals, becoming isolated and socially withdrawn, or having a change in personality.  People may also suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which is a mental health condition where a person becomes fixated with the one part of their body that they feel is ugly, misshapen or in some way flawed.

What can we do?

There is no single answer for how to can improve our body esteem. Instead, it is important that we remind each other to be kinder to our bodies, and share ideas on how to feel comfortable in our own skin.  That’s why this week of mental health awareness is so important, because we all have a role to play.

As our minds and bodies are very closely linked it comes as no surprise that one affects the other.  By encouraging each other to turn away from the idea of an ‘ideal body’ type, and instead looking at how we can promote healthy living (irrespective of our inevitably different body shapes and sizes), we will in turn help to promote healthier living through both the body and the mind.

Simple actions such as changing the way we talk about our bodies on social media, what children are taught in schools, the way we talk about our bodies on a daily basis, will help slowly chip away at the concept of an ‘ideal body’ type.

But we can only do this if we all work together.

We’re by no means the experts on mental health, far from it, but we want to do our bit to helping raise the awareness this week.  As well as initiatives we’re running, we’d love to hear about your opinions around body image and any top tips that you might have to help us discover the beauty within our bodies and our minds.

#BeBodyKind #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

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