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Body Image and Mental Health in Young People

Learn more about how to support children and young people with their body image and mental health.

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Discover expert advice on body image concerns in children and young people

On this three-week course from the Mental Health Foundation, you’ll explore body image and the impact it has on children and young people’s mental health.

With the help of experts from across the Foundation’s programmes, research, and policy teams, you’ll examine body image, its relationship with mental health, the factors that affect it, and how to support children and young people to develop and maintain healthy body image.

Explore the prevalence of body image concerns in childhood and adolescence

This course will guide you through the many influences on body image, from social media to physical health conditions, and how body image affects mental health and quality of life in young people.

Develop ways to support young people toward healthy body image

Through this course, you’ll learn some personal actions you can take to develop and maintain healthy body image, helping to build a more accepting culture for young people.

You’ll also gain tips on how to support young people in educational settings, at home, and through policy. From informed conversations to health education, you’ll finish this course with a wide range of tools to support children and young people with their body image.

Learn from the experts at the Mental Health Foundation

The Mental Health Foundation is one of the UK’s leading mental health charities, taking a prevention-focused public mental health approach to its work.

Their mission is to help all people understand, protect, and sustain their mental health, which makes them uniquely suited to guide you through the important topic of body image in young people.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    Defining body image and mental health throughout life

    • Introduction to the course

      Welcome to the course! In this activity, you will meet the Mental Health Foundation team and gain an overview of the course. There will be a chance to reflect on your expectations and meet the other learners.

    • Defining body image

      In this activity, you will define the term ‘body image’, explore what constitutes healthy body image and body image concerns, and critically engage with research on the prevalence of body image concerns.

    • Defining mental health

      In this activity, you will define the term ‘mental health', explore what constitutes both good mental health and mental health problems, and critically engage with research on the prevalence of mental health problems.

    • Exploring the relationship between body image and mental health

      In this activity, you will explore how body image interacts with mental health and quality of life, and discuss some of the factors that affect the relationship.

    • Body image in later life

      In the final half of this week’s activities, you will examine some of the factors that impact body image across different life stages, using case studies. You will focus first on later life.

    • Body image in adulthood

      In this activity, you will explore how comfortable adults are with their bodies, and examine some of the factors that impact body image during adulthood. Case studies will be used.

    • Weekly reflection section

      This activity provides a space to reflect on what you have learned in Week 1.

  • Week 2

    Body image in children and young people

    • Introduction to Week 2

      Welcome to Week 2 of the course! In this activity, you will recap what you have learned so far, before being introduced to body image in childhood and adolescence.

    • Psychological factors: Thoughts and feelings

      In this activity, you will explore the relationship between body image, mental health, and behaviour in children and young people in the UK. There will be a conversation exercise and a space for reflection on the topic.

    • Family and social networks

      In this activity, you will explore the influence that parents and family members, as well as peers and friends, have on children and young people's body image.

    • Ethnicity and culture

      In this activity, you will explore the influence of ethnicity and culture on children and young people's body image.

    • Health conditions, disorders, and disabilities

      In this activity, you will explore the impact of physical health conditions and disabilities, as well as neurodiversity and learning disabilities, on children and young people's body image, using case studies.

    • Life changes and transitions

      In this activity, you will explore the different life changes and transitions that can impact body image throughout childhood and adolescence. You will discuss the topic using a case study.

    • Cosmetic procedures

      In this activity, you will explore the impact that exposure to cosmetic procedures can have on children and young people's body image.

    • Media and technology

      In this activity, you will explore the impact of media and technology on children and young people's body image, particularly their role in body ideal internalisation. You will discuss the topic using a case study.

    • Weekly reflection section

      This activity provides a space to reflect on what you have learned in Week 2.

  • Week 3

    Supporting children and young people to maintain healthy body image

    • Introduction to Week 3

      Welcome to Week 3 of the course! In this activity, you will recap what you have learned so far, and discuss some of the signs and behaviours that indicate body image concerns are affecting mental health and quality of life.

    • Personal actions as professionals

      In this activity, you will investigate how, by taking personal actions, professionals can develop and maintain both their own healthy body image, and that of the children and young people they work with.

    • Helpful and informed conversations about cosmetic procedures

      In this activity, you will explore how to hold helpful and informed conversations with children and young people about cosmetic procedures using articles and conversation excercises..

    • Supporting children and young people in education

      In this activity, you will explore how to support the wider community to address body image concerns in school and further education settings.

    • Supporting children and young people at home

      In this activity, you will explore how to support the wider community around young people to address body image concerns at home.

    • Supporting children and young people in policy

      In this activity, you will explore UK policy and regulation around social media, advertising, and industry, as well as health care, social care, and public health action.

    • Weekly reflection section

      This activity provides a space to reflect on what you have learned in Week 3.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe body image and its prevalence in the UK.
  • Explore how body image interacts with mental health and quality of life.
  • Discuss body image concerns throughout life.
  • Engage in greater depth with the factors that influence body image in children and young people in the UK.
  • Investigate how take personal actions as a professional to maintain healthy body image.
  • Explore how to support children and young people's body image concerns in education
  • Explore how to support children and young people's body image concerns at home
  • Critique UK policy and regulation around professional training, social media, provision of services, and advertising.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for all professionals working with children and young people, with a focus on the education sector.

It will also be of interest to anyone looking to learn more about body image, its link with mental health, and how to support young people at home, in school, or through policy changes.

Who will you learn with?

I work directly with young people to build and strengthen mental health and psychosocial systems and resources. I have a background in psychology, cognitive neuroscience & post-conflict development.

Who developed the course?

Mental Health Foundation

The Mental Health Foundation’s vision is for a world with good mental health for all.

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