Scots youngsters 'ashamed of the way they look', mental health charity warns

A third of young people reported that images theyd seen on social media had made them worry about the way they look
A third of young people reported that images theyd seen on social media had made them worry about the way they look
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One in five Scottish young people say they have felt ashamed of their body image and way they look, according to a new poll by a mental health charity.

The survey of nearly 400 young people aged between 10 and 19 was commissioned by Mental Health Foundation Scotland to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place this week.

One in seven young people said they had stopped eating or restricted their diet to try and feel better about their body image. Meanwhile, just over one in ten said that their body image had stopped them from going to school or college, and over a quarter said it had stopped them from taking part in sports.

Julie Cameron, head of programmes at Mental Health Foundation Scotland, said: “Worries about body image can lead to mental health problems and in some instances are linked to self-harm and suicidal thoughts and feelings.”

She added: "It is also clear from the survey that teenagers are identifying images on social media as a key factor that makes them worry about their body image. Conversations with friends also have a major role in causing young people to worry.”

The charity’s report “Body Image: How we think and feel about our bodies” highlights the range of commercial and advertising pressures on body image which are contributing to the mental health for thousands of young people, and calls for immediate action across all aspects of society to safeguard the health of teenagers as they grow up.

Just under a third of young people reported that images they had seen on social media had made them worry about the way they look, with one in seven saying they had edited photos of themselves to change their appearance.

Ms Cameron added: “Action starts in our families and homes with how we talk about our bodies and eating, but we also need more regulation of advertising which promotes idealised and unattainable body images. Social media companies should urgently up their game in taking practical steps to ensure that the content they promote does not exacerbate body-image concerns.”