Context and background
Each year the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) hosts Mental Health Awareness Week, with the focus on a specific theme. The theme for Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 was ‘Body image – how we think and feel about our bodies’.
During the week, MHF published a report, including the results of Scotland and UK-wide surveys of how people in 2019 feel about their bodies and how they feel their body image affects their lives and wellbeing. The report considered body image issues across the life course – how it affects children and young people, adults, and people in later life.
In April 2019, the Scottish Government published research on the reported worsening of mental wellbeing of young women and girls. Body image was highlighted as one of the main drivers which contributed to this decline. Other factors included social media, disrupted sleep and school pressures.
In response to both the MHF’s report, and the findings of the Scottish Government’s research, the Minister for Mental Health announced the formation of an advisory group on healthy body image for children and young people. The advisory group will identify specific actions to help children and young people achieve a healthy body image.
The purpose of the advisory group is to undertake a six month review across Scotland to understand more about body image and how it can affect children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. The advisory group will then provide recommendations and advice to Scottish Ministers on further actions to help children and young people achieve a healthy body image.
The advisory group will:
- identify a definition of what ‘healthy body image’ means that is relevant to every Scottish child and young person
- develop options for how children and young people, relevant professionals and wider support networks can support healthy body image for children and young people
- provide the Scottish Government with specific recommendations and advice for next steps and consider the need for wider public consultation on where action should be taken
The group will run for a six month period. This timespan will begin at the first meeting, which will take place in August 2019. Meetings will be held monthly, with the final meeting taking place in January 2020. The group will deliver its final report soon after the final meeting.
The advisory group is co-chaired by Julie Cameron from the Mental Health Foundation, and Katie Reid, a BEAT Youth Ambassador. Membership has been jointly agreed between the Mental Health Foundation, BEAT and the Scottish Government, and includes:
- Frances Duffy, Education Scotland
- Fariha Thomas, Youth Community Support Agency
- Simita Kumar, Children’s Health Scotland
- Helen Forrest, Children’s Health Scotland
- Carolyn Fox McKay, Girlguiding Scotland
- Leanne Ferries, Childline
- Petya Eckler, University of Strathclyde
- Fiona Duffy, NHS Lothian and University of Edinburgh
- Helen Sharpe, University of Edinburgh
- Rachel Thomson, Public Health Registrar representing various policy interests from Scottish Government
The advisory group will provide recommendations to the Minister for Mental Health. Policy officials from the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Directorate will attend meetings in an observational capacity to maintain this link.
The Scottish Government’s Mental Health Directorate will provide secretariat support to the group. This will include:
- organisation of meetings
- recording minutes of meetings and publishing these on the Scottish Government website
- providing a central point of contact for group members
Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org
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