What is this thing called body image and why it is a mental health problem? It is usually defined as a person’s beliefs, thoughts, perceptions, feelings & actions about their body & appearance. Some things that body image might include or be related to are:
• Body satisfaction or dissatisfaction
• Weight and shape concerns
• Body distortion
• Preferred body shape / size
• The importance placed on one’s weight & shape People with eating disorders often have very negative views of their bodies & physical appearance. This can have a significant impact on their quality of life. It can also serve to keep their eating disorder going. And cause Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Through a complex interaction between psychological and social factors we develop and maintain our own body image. For some of us, the body becomes a source of great dissatisfaction. We internalize the idea that we can only feel good about ourselves if we meet some ideal standard of perfection – we are only acceptable as people if we look a certain way. Grogan (2008) defines body dissatisfaction as a person’s negative thoughts about his or her own body. This includes judgements about size and shape, muscle tone and generally involves a discrepancy between one’s own body type and an ideal body type.
Sadly, this has become…common in our society. Has it become normal to be dissatisfied? Do people realize how detrimental this is for us – to be dissatisfied with our external shell, the package that carries us around? Or for us to be judging this part of ourselves and others? risk factors of a boy/girl with a negative body image:
· May have low self-esteem · May be uncomfortable participating in physical activities · May avoid social situations · Is more likely to become preoccupied with his/her weight and dieting · Is at risk for developing an eating disorder · May lose interest in school · Or harm herself with drugs, alcohol, unsafe tattooing or piercing, and unsafe sexual activity with multiple partners.
Some dissatisfaction with one’s body may be normal. When it becomes extreme or influences how you perceive yourself…then there may be a problem. According to Steg et al. (2008) some clinical extremes are: Anorexia Nervosa: characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight even while the person is severely underweight. A person may engage in extreme dieting or physical exercise in an attempt to lose or avoid gaining weight. Bulimia Nervosa: A person suffering from bulimia nervosa consumes large amounts of food in a short period of time. There is a feeling of having no control over their eating behaviours. To compensate for binging then, they engage in behaviours such as fasting, purging or vomiting. Body Dysmorphic Disorder: people with this disorder dramatically overestimate the importance of and extent to which other people notice or pay attention to flaws in their appearance. This might be applied to a body part they obsess over, like size and shape of a nose, or to a heavily distorted body perception. As mentioned in the beginning, perception is your own representation of what is in the physical world, not what the actual appearance is. This disorder often leads to feelings of shame around the body, anxiety or depression.
Area of Activity
1: Raising awareness regarding Body Image Dissatisfaction through educational programs within target populations
Indicator: Brief, opportunistic survey of target population before, and some time after implementation of the mental health activity
Target group: At a minimum, adolescent target group (13-25years) most measurable.
Threshold: Improvement in survey scores before, and some time after the implementation of a mental health program within MSA- India.
2: Increased access to mental health services
Indicator: Identifiable access to providers of mental health care by medical students, after advertising of resources identifying available services by MSA-India by online campaigning. (and potentially advocacy for increased funding/development)
Target group: Medical students/ Medical schools
Threshold: Can identify at least 2 accessible providers of mental health care (including general practitioners/family doctors but excluding hospitals)
Time frame of the Activity
10/10/2016 – 10/02/2017
Mental Health – [email protected]
Aditya Desai – [email protected]