Healthy body image expert group established

New expert group to consider how support for young people can be improved

Monday 13th May 2019

A newly formed government advisory group will examine the impact of body image on young people’s mental wellbeing.

The announcement of the advisory group on health body image comes at the beginning of mental health awareness week, a campaign organised by the Mental Health Foundation which this year focuses on the theme of body image.

Representatives from youth, third sector and equalities groups are to be included in the group’s membership, which will look to produce advice for relevant professionals as part of its six-month research period.

Making the announcement, Minister for Mental Health, Clare Haughey, said:

"From our recently published research, we know that body image is a concern for children and young people.

We are striving for a society where people do not suffer because of concerns about body image, and where they do not feel pressured to live up to a false sense of perfection.”

The remit of the new group will be published tomorrow by Ms Haughey, who added:This will build on our package of measures to improve the mental health of young people, and directly target the impact of social media and body image on mental wellbeing.

This includes £90,000 of funding to produce advice on the healthy use of social media and screen time, and a review of evidence on the effects of screen use on sleep and the implications of this for mental health.”

Prior to publication of new data about the impact of body image on young people’s mental health later this week, Julie Cameron, head of programmes at the Mental Health Foundation Scotland, said:

We welcome the commitment from the Scottish Government to establish a new National Advisory Group on Healthy Body to improve support for young people and health professionals.

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is body image and our research published this week highlights the huge impact that negative body image can have on the mental health of both adults and young people.

We particularly welcome the commitment to addressing the impact of social media on body image. Our report and survey uncovered evidence that both social media and online advertising are contributing to mental health problems for thousands of people across Scotland

Now is the time to address these pressures head-on and we look forward to playing our full part in the new advisory group.”

In April of this year the Scottish Government published research on social media’s contribution to poorer mental wellbeing among adolescent girls, and announced new measures to improve teenage mental health.