…the expectations of society, governments and the W.H.O.
What are the triggers for mental health issues? Well there are many, but one area I want to hit upon is body image. A subject that many women would agree on and a lot of men secretly harbour the fear of expectation.
Along with social media exploding over the past ten years we are increasingly being bombarded by images of the ‘perfect’ body image. Retailers are planting the images in our heads through television or social media advertising. This causes us to not just look at ourselves, but our family, friends and even Joe Bloggs that walks past us in the street. An unrealistic image that can hit our self-confidence, leading to anxiety and depression issues.
Even the makers of mobile phones are guilty. Filters allowing the photos we take to enhance our look or crop out the bits we don’t like. “I know, I’ll convert to black and white so you can’t see my blemishes.” I saw an advertisement on social media the other day for an app you can download which can give me a six pack and hair to cover my ever decreasing hair line. 30 years ago this could have been a bit of harmless fun on a Fuzzy Felt board (showing my age) but with pressure to conform to peer pressure it’s no longer funny and a real component to increasing mental health issues. There will come a time when we won’t recognise our social media friends if we met them on the street.
This mannequin at a sports outlet clearly shows how ‘NIKE’ expect us to look if you want to wear their merchandise. “You too can have a body like this Dummy“.
“People in the UK are around 20% less active now than in the 1960’s. If current trends continue , we will be 35% less active by 2030” – Public Health England
Okay yes, we are as a nation getting less active. You don’t need to read a government report to know this. It’s current trends that make us this way, with technology making life ‘easier’ but making us lazier. I’m as guilty as the next person. Only the other night the remote for the television stopped working and I had to get up to change the channel, then the volume, making me realise just how dependant we are on technology.
The government regularly tells us what we can eat and drink, what is healthy and what is not. What is a SUPERFRUIT anyway? Do you have to peel off it’s cape before consuming? One day red meat and a glass of red wine is good for you and then within six months it’s not, recommending instead white meat and a glass of pomegranate juice. Then there is body image again and what our ideal weight should be. Who dreams up these figures? A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) indicated that 28.1% of adults in the UK are recognised as clinically obese. 62% of adults were classified as overweight and more than two thirds of men are overweight or obese. As mush as I understand that we do not perhaps eat as healthily as we once did or exercise as much, the expectations and ‘ideal’ weights published by the government and WHO are all together unrealistic, unachievable (to most) and puts an extreme pressure on our mental health.
This continued pressure from government on body image is having an adverse effect on the health of the nation. It’s little wonder that overall mental health funding is up £1.4 billion in real terms compared to three years ago. Figures show that by the end of 2018/19 an additional 200,000 people will receive psychological therapies alone.
Perhaps the government should concentrate on the causes of mental health and look at ways of prevention and early support. Ban false image advertising and fund projects that encourage self confidence. Mental health is not to blame for the increased spending in the NHS, the government is.
Goodbye to you from your Hoobaddyhoo.