Mental health practitioner/occupational therapist Shevaughn Addicott is principal of Modern Minds Therapy and has spent more than a decade counselling to locals of all ages.
With screenings of the movie Embrace starting yesterday and on again this afternoon and tonight, today she exposes three common myths about body image and eating disorders.
Myth: Body image issues are normal and therefore no cause for concern.
Truth: In Australia, body image issues have become a cultural norm — however this epidemic is very concerning. Measuring your self worth based on your body image can create mental health issues and a preoccupation with changing your body shape, size or weight. This can lead to unhealthy behaviours that place you at risk of developing an eating disorder. Unsafe dieting, which has also become a cultural norm, is considered one of the most significant risk factors in the development of an eating disorder. Our culture’s perception of body image issues and unsafe dieting as normal and healthy often prevents individuals from recognising and seeking professional support for eating and body image related issues.
Myth: Your body image will change if you change your body.
Truth: Body image is a relationship between the mind and body.
Myth: Body image issues and eating disorders only affect teenage girls.
Truth: Body image issues are generally shaped during childhood and adolescence but are just as prevalent during adulthood. While the common age of onset for eating disorders is between the ages of 12 and 25, eating disorders can affect anyone. Women going through periods of transition and adjustment such as pregnancy, motherhood, separation and menopause are also at greater risk of developing an eating disorder. Individuals with a history of mental illness are also at greater risk. Whilst eating disorders are more common in females, recent studies suggest the prevalence of eating disorders amongst males is rapidly increasing.
There are four aspects of body image:
■ How you envision your body is your perceptual body image. This is not always an accurate representation of how you actually look.
■ The way you feel about your body, including how satisfied you are with your appearance, is your effective body image.
■ Your thoughts and beliefs about your body create your cognitive body image.
■ Behaviour you engage in as a result of body image, including unhelpful or unhealthy ones, encompass your behavioural body image.
To improve body image it is important to consider all the above. The support and guidance of a counsellor or mental health professional can be very helpful.
Where can you get help?
■ www.feedyourinstinct.com.au is designed to support parents of children and young people experiencing different types of eating and/or body image issues. It highlights common warning signs, includes an eating and body image checklist and provides useful information and guidance.
■ Speak with your GP about a referral to a counsellor or mental health professional, go to thebutterflyfoundation.org.au or call 1800 33 4673.
Tickets on sale
There are a still a few tickets left for this evening’s screening of Embrace at Moama Bowling Club following last night’s sellout crowd. It is an incredibly serious subject and this forum provides a genuine opportunity for our community to begin a conversation.