School psychologist urges pupils not to compare themselves with 'filtered' social media images
PUBLISHED: 07:30 13 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:46 14 May 2019
THURSTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE
A clinical psychologist who was one of the first in the country to be appointed full-time to support students at a Suffolk school is urging pupils not to compare themselves with images they see on social media.
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Dr Beth Mosley, who is employed by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), began her pioneering role at Thurston Community College, near Bury St Edmunds, in 2017.
The psychologist offers support on issues such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and eating disorders as well as training staff on how to identify and best address issues.
MORE: More schools set to benefit from pioneering mental health project
Dr Mosley is calling on parents and those who work with young people to be positive role models and promote the health benefits of food and exercise, rather than linking them to appearance.
"I often meet with young people who are struggling with feeling comfortable with their own bodies, sometimes to the point that they restrict their eating," Dr Mosley said.
"They are bombarded with images of the 'ideal' faces and bodies, and this creates a sense of body dissatisfaction for some.
"The filters and editing which everyone now uses on social media also doesn't help with painting a true picture of the diversity and beauty of human faces and bodies of all shapes and sizes."
Dr Mosley was speaking as we mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, which started on Monday and this year carries the theme "body image - how we think and feel about our bodies".
"There is no single cause of body dissatisfaction and/or disorder eating, but research tells us that social media contributes to both of these issues," she said.
"It is therefore very important when using social media to avoid images that are going to encourage feelings of dissatisfaction with your own body.
"Parents or adults who work with young people can help by being positive role models and demonstrating a healthy relationship with food and exercise.
"My advice to young people would be to avoid comparing your body with your friends or those you might see on social media. Every body is different and has unique genetic and cultural factors. Accepting and feeling comfortable with your own body means focusing on its strengths and all the amazing things it does for you every day."
MORE: Read how a Suffolk school is leading the way in pupil mental health
Dr Mosley also reflected on her two years in the role at Thurston after it was announced in February that the project would be rolled out to other schools in west Suffolk.
Dr Mosley, who is leading the project's expansion, said: "It's a fantastic role but it's still a work in progress. The goal has to be 'how do we integrate health and education more?'
"It's the beginning of a new way of working."