Mental health week event targets body image

A ‘body-positive zone’ appeared in a Scarborough shopping centre as part of mental health awareness week.

It was designed to promote body positivity, reduce stigma and encourage people to talk about mental health.

The theme of the awareness week was body image - how we think and feel about our bodies. Last year the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) found that 30% of adults have felt so stressed by the way their bodies look that they were overwhelmed or unable to cope.

Over the week, a team of stylists, beauty and mental-health professionals helped shoppers to be bold, confident, happy and beautiful; to explore their own individual style and become body positive.

The participants included two local mental-health charities, Scarborough Survivors and Scarborough, Whitby & Ryedale Mind.

Christine Mackay of Survivors commented: “As a mental health charity established 25 years ago, we continue to address the stigma linked to mental illness. We welcome every opportunity to have conversations about mental health”.  

Sophie Hall of Mind added: “This year’s theme of body image is incredibly important. How we think and feel about our body shape and size, individual features or physical differences has a huge effect on mental wellbeing. Having negative body image can impact confidence and self esteem as well as increase risk of mental-health problems such as depression and anxiety”. 

A photo set-up allowed visitors to take selfies and add their voice to the MHF’s Be Body Kind initiative, designed to combat stigma and promote positivity. They were encouraged to post on social media a picture of a time or place when they felt comfortable in their own skin, using the hashtags #BeBodyKind and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.

The event was in the Brunswick Pavilion, whose manager, Sue Anderson-Brown, said: “We are mindful that the retail setting can be very much body and clothing-focused. Having both our customers and the team that work within the centre be more thoughtful of body image and its impact on mental health has to have a positive impact”.