Mental health awareness week 2019: Social media. Remember, IT’S NOT REAL LIFE

Mental health awareness week 2019: Social media. Remember, IT’S NOT REAL LIFE

Sadie White No Comment

Mental health awareness week 2019: Body image

Social media lifestyle: Remember, IT’S NOT REAL LIFE

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place 13-19 May 2019. The theme this year is Body image – how we think and feel about our bodies. This year Door 43 – the emotional health and wellbeing service at youth charity Sheffield Futures is building on this theme and raising awareness of the importance of remembering it’s not real life, when faced with mega edited selfies and seemingly perfect lifestyles on the likes of Instagram as well as aps that allow you to self-edit your image like FaceTune.

‘Body image can have a massive impact on young peoples’ self-esteem and confidence. The way they think they are viewed by others and the way they picture themselves in their minds and even in the mirror can make young people feel uncomfortable in their own skin, anxious, unhealthy or disempowered.’ Says Rochelle Lowe, Health and Wellbeing Practitioner at Sheffield Futures.

‘The media including social media has a massive role to play in what young people see as ‘normal’ and the amount of time spent online alongside the prevalence of online tools such as FaceTune – which literally allow you to alter your image – means it’s getting more and more difficult for young people to stay in reality.’

‘Too much exposure to Instagram, where people’s lives are so perfect, can make young people feel like they are failing and now with the onset of aps that actually let you make changes to the way you look too can be incredibly damaging. They reinforce negative feelings about body image and can ultimately lead to more serious emotional health problems such as anxiety low self-esteem as well as encouraging cyber bullying where young people literally feel like they can’t get away from negative attitudes.’

It’s encouraging to see that some Insta sensations such as Essena O’Neil have actively rejected their Insta lives and instead are exposing the unrealistic images they have previously posted as ‘Not real life’ with the aim of raising awareness of the damage unrealistic images can do to self-esteem and in some cases mental and physical health.

‘All the images we see are edited in some way and are in no way a true representation of that person’s life. Trying to live up to said pictures is simply unachievable without hurting yourselves. The sooner we realise it’s not real the better.’ Says Kate Hardy, Sheffield Futures Young Advisor and ex Member of Youth Parliament for Sheffield.

Door 43’s top tips for a positive body image

  • Limit your exposure to social media: Reduce your amount of social and media access. Be aware of images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body and remember that these images may have been edited. If someone or something is making you feel bad online then avoid it as far as you can. If it gets out of control then report it to a responsible adult.
  • Keep a top-10 list of things you like about yourself: Things that are not related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Read your list often.
  • Remind yourself that true beauty is not skin-deep: Look at yourself as a whole person, beauty is a state of mind and not a state of body.
  • Surround yourself with positive friends and family: It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around people of the same age or family who are supportive and who boost your self-confidence by praising you, making you feel good about yourself.
  • Treat your body kindly: Do nice things for yourself to relax like having a bubble bath, exercising, eating healthily and drinking lots of water as well as doing things like sport, arts and cultural activities that you are good at and you enjoy.

About Door 43

Door43 offers Sheffield’s 13 – 25 year olds support on a range of social, emotional, practical and health related issues.

Door43 at Sheffield Futures on Division Street is staffed by youth workers, counsellors, substance misuse workers, sexual health workers, careers advisors, volunteers as well as peer supporters.

Young people can drop in at Door43, Sheffield Futures, Division Street on Wednesdays. Please call 0114 201 2800 for further information and appointments.

You can find out more about the activities and workshops on offer on the Sheffield Futures website www.sheffieldfutures.org.uk/i-need-help/door43/

We also run a social prescribing service for young people aged 13-25. Much like going to the GP for a prescription if you’re physically ill, we can work with you to prescribe activities, services and practical support that can help with a range of issues you may be facing such as:

  • Loneliness and isolation: We can help you to make new friends or find groups to make connections with others through activities you’re interested in
  • Difficulty accessing housing, education or employment: We can provide practical support to make housing applications, coach you to understand opportunities for further education or with getting back into work
  • Low confidence, mood, wellbeing: We can support you to find ways to build confidence, improve mood and boost wellbeing and tackle any underlying issues you may have.

For those that would rather, there is also the option to book appointments.

If you know a young person or young people that you feel may benefit from the service you can refer them to the service by calling 0114 201 2774.

How you can help

Our charity is dedicated to helping Sheffield's young people to reach their full potential and achieve the best out of life, whatever their starting point. To help us to do more to support young people and communities we need your help. Just remember, every penny you donate will make a difference.