Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Body-Image Pressure on Young People: A Socio-Cultural Problem


.  In Australians aged 11-24, approximately to 35% of females and 28% of males are dissatisfied with their appearance (1).

·  Poor body image is associated with an increased probability of engaging in dangerous dietary practices and weight control methods, excessive exercise, substance abuse and unnecessary surgery to alter appearance (1).


·  A recent survey of 600 Australian children found that increasingly, children are disturbed by the relentless pressure of marketing aimed at them. A large majority (88%) believed that companies tried to sell them things that they do not really need (2).



Image: http://www.yuppee.com/2013/05/07/prepare-a-girl-talking-about-body-image-in-the-media/

The sudden eruption of digital media content and access to devices in the last generation, has provided more accessible information- to more people- through more sources, than ever before. People have access to this unlimited amount of uncensored information constantly, just by the press of a button. Although this has created opportunities for social and professional developments, it has also become a burden on the health and positive development of our youth.

Image: http://www.personal.psu.edu/afr3/blogs/SIOW/2011/09/body-image-and-the-media.html
The struggle for our youth to develop their own identity is becoming an increasing challenge and concern. Our perception of love, health, beauty and our values are a product of our external influences. The challenge for many of our youth, is the constant battle of trying to achieve goals that are actually unattainable. These goals are presented to them as a means to sell or market a product, which they are constantly being exposed to. 

Beyond that of the media, our social networks are providing an unrealistic perception of reality, forcing individuals to compare their lives to these prescribed, scripted, and filtered fictions. The multiplicity and availability of apps that offer photo-shot and filters to alter and amend pictures, give people a false idea of beauty, health and happiness. This is having an immense effect on the development as well as the mental health of our future generation. The media and social networks are dictating to our youth what beauty looks like, creating an isolated yet strong association between beauty and happiness. 

The unattainable goal of perfection bombarded daily through the media is having damaging effects on our youth with a rise in eating disorders and associated mental health. At the end of 2012, it was estimated that more than 1 million Australians were affected by eating disorders (1). Depression is experienced by approximately 45% to 86% of individuals with an eating disorder (3). Anxiety disorder is experienced by approximately 64% of individuals with an eating disorder (4). This issue is not only a concern for our younger girls as the prevalence of eating disorders are increasing with boys (1). 

This constant uncensored exposure, and their need for a sense of belonging are not just affecting the mental health of our youth, but also their education and their relationships. It also it becoming a safety issue as there is no regulation to tagging locations and ‘follows’.

Maybe this is a policy issue, however, it is time for us to take action. It is time for us to take responsibility for our youth.





JewishCare’s Youth Service team aim to address this issue in their upcoming parent seminar, taking place on Wednesday the 25th of March from 6:30pm - 8:30pm. The seminar aims to teach parents about the dangers that their children may be facing, as well as educating them about how to promote a positive body image within this visually saturated world.



 
Guest speakers, Jennifer Bradon (Senior Psychologist, Northside Clinic) and Amie Morris (Founder, Project Shine), will be presenting on:

• Understanding the range of influences that impact on a child’s sense of self.

• Supporting children to build healthy body image and positive self-esteem.

• Practical strategies for building resilient and confident kids.

A panel including the guest speakers and Psychologist Michael Avnet, will be present for questions and answers.

Let’s take some action and help our future generation towards a positive healthy outlook on themselves and their lives.

If you would like to book in for this FREE seminar, please click here: http://www.trybooking.com/HCRL

If you know someone who is struggling, and have any mental health concerns please seek help now.


Some useful resources are:

· JewishCare - http://www.jewishcare.com.au/

· The Butterfly Foundation - http://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/

· Beyond Blue - http://www.youthbeyondblue.com/

· Black Dog Institute - http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

· Headspace – http://www.headspace.org.au/

· YOUTH BLOCK -Camperdown Youth Health Service Youthblock provides free, confidential support, counselling and health services for young people aged 12 - 24 who live or spend time in the Inner West of Sydney. (02) 9516 2233


References:
1. The National Eating Disorders Collaboration (2010). Eating Disorders Prevention, Treatment & Management: An Evidence Review. Retrieved from http://www.nedc.com.au/nedc-publications
2. The 2006 Nielsen company survey, covering 25000 respondents in 45 countries. Retrieved from http://www.eatingdisorders.org.au/key-research-a-statistics#12
3. O’Brien, K.M.O., & Vincent, N.K. (2003). Psychiatric comorbidity in anorexia and bulimia nervosa: Nature, prevalence, and causal relationships. Clinical Pyschology Review, 23, 57-74.
4. Kaye, W.H., Bulik, C.M., Thornton, L., Barbarich, N., Masters, K., & Price Foundation Collaborative Group. (2004). Comorbidity of anxiety disorders with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 2215-2221.

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