Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 will take place from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May 2019. The theme for 2019 is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies.
Body image issues can affect all of us at any age. During the week they will be publishing new research, considering some of the reasons why our body image can impact the way that we feel, campaigning for change and publishing practical tools.
Last year the Mental Health Foundation found 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.
Body image issues can affect all of us at any age and directly impact our mental health. However there is still a lack of much-needed research and understanding around this.
The good news is that we can tackle body image through what children are taught in schools, by the way we talk about our bodies on a daily basis and through policy change by governments across the UK.
Mental Health Foundation
From 13-19 May they will be running a body image challenge. Simply post on social media a picture of a time or a place when you felt comfortable in your own skin – this could be now, five years ago or at the age of five. It can be a photo of yourself or something else that reminds you of the moment along with #BeBodyKind #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
There are a range of resources on the Mental health Foundation for use in schools, including publications, covering topics including: How to look after your mental health, the truth about self harm and how to overcome fear and anxiety. The make it count campaign with guidance for teachers, parents and children and their Peer Education Project.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England has put together a range of themed, simple, and mostly cost-free activities below to help you take part in Mental Health Awareness Week. Each activity is something you can do together as a team and it takes only 30 minutes! #EmpowerHalfHour
The DigiSafe team have collected a range of resources that can support the theme of this week at bodyimage.lgfl.net, with resources for KS1-KS5 it is a great starting point for assemblies and PSHE lessons during the week.
The Diana Award Anti-Bullying Campaign has teamed up with ASOS to run #MySenseOfSelf, a project exploring body image, body confidence and self-esteem. From speaking to young people and staff across the country through their Anti-Bullying Ambassadors Programme, they understand the importance of equipping young people with the tools they need to tackle social pressures on body image and develop self-confidence. As part of this project they have created a lesson plan for teachers or staff members to use: this resource aims to encourage students to open up a discussion with their peers about body image and is packed full of interactive activities.
It contains everything you need to run a 1.5-hour class or a number of shorter sessions, and explores 3 core themes: social media and its impact; celebrating difference; and developing self-esteem. Register on the #MySenseOfSelf website to download these free resources. The resources have gained the quality mark from the PSHE Association, who said “#MySenseOfSelf provides the opportunity to promote positive body image in a highly engaging and thought-provoking way”.
The PHSE Association has published practical guidance for teachers about the safe and confident teaching of body image in schools, as part of the PSHE curriculum. The guidance aims to enable schools to promote positive body image with pupils by supporting teachers to develop their own teaching materials or adapt existing high quality resources for use in the classroom, a range of which are recommended in the guidance. Suitable for Key Stages 1-5, the resource includes sections on establishing ground rules for a supportive learning environment, using visitors in the classroom and addressing the needs of vulnerable pupils. The document, downloadable here, draws upon input from over 350 teachers as well as focus groups of experts and young people.
Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools – The Be Real Campaign’s mission is to change attitudes to body image and help all of us put health above appearance and be confident in our bodies.They have produced a toolkit for schools because they know that in order to tackle body confidence later in life, it is essential that it begins from an early age. Secondary schools are a key setting for young people to discuss and challenge body confidence issues, with both teachers and students playing an important role in how this happens.
Their Somebody Like Me and In Your Face research show that body confidence has a direct impact on students’ academic performance and general wellbeing. Working with a team of experts and teachers, the Be Real Campaign created the Body Confidence Campaign Toolkit for Schools to help develop body confidence in all your students so they can thrive both in and out of the classroom.
Mentally Healthy Schools have also curated a collection of resources for Primary schools on the topic of body image, which includes lesson plans as well as a guide to spotting the signs and protective factors: what schools can do. You can read more and find the resources here.
Body image and Advertising resources from Media Smart – Supported by the Government Equalities Office and accredited by the PSHE Association, the resources are designed to build pupils’ emotional resilience as they learn to engage deeper with the messages and methods of advertising. These high-quality resources were created by leading independent experts and will support you in teaching engaging and interactive lessons with key curriculum links to PSHE. They include teacher’s notes and a guide for parents and guardians so that they can discuss this subject at home. We have also created a supporting film featuring young people discussing this issue which you can watch below. Teachers can illustrate the lesson with the suggested case studies or, they can choose their own.
Off the back of Credos (the Advertising industry’s think tank) research, Media Smarr saw a need to create educational materials that focus on the effects of negative body self-image on boys (as most are more girl focused).
To accompany the teaching resources, the team created the film below called the Boys’ Biggest Conversation, with First News and TV medic – Dr Ranj Singh. They interviewed secondary school boys, inviting them to share how they feel about their appearance, and exploring why they feel that way. Parents or guardians can use the free guidelines to support in discussions at home.
Public Health England have also produced a Body Image in a digital world plan pack for KS3 and KS4 pupils, the pack has been produced to explore with students what body image is, how social media can influence it and how to reduce stress caused by online pressure. The resources include videos, lesson plan and powerpoints and can be downloaded here.
Pooky Kingsmith is is the current vice chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition. Pooky regularly posts a blog and newsletter featuring advice on Mental Health for both parents and professionals, she has a brilliant YouTube channel with videos covering a range of topics including Mental Health, such as the one below which looks at 4 tips for teachers and parents promoting a positive body image – perfect to share at a staff meeting and with parents.
You can also stay updated by following @MentalHealth Foundation on Twitter using the #BeBodyKind during Mental Health Awareness week.