Mental Health Awareness Week: Volunteer to make a difference
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year the focus is on body image. The youth charity, YMCA found that nearly two thirds of 15-16 year olds believed social media to have inflated their expectations of how their bodies should look, due to photoshopped images online distorting their perception of real life body norms. YMCA and The Dove Self Esteem Project have partnered up to launch #IPledgeToBeReal, a campaign prompting social media users to stop editing their pictures and to hold brands accountable for failure to endorse body diversity.
We’ve collated a list of organisations where you can volunteer to help people regain control of how they feel about their bodies, and to fight unobtainable beauty standards. We’ve also included some organisations dedicated to improving the quality of life for anyone affected by mental illness.
Girls Out Loud is an organisation directed towards tackling the ways in which young girls’ individuality and identities are threatened. Through a lack of positive female role models, invasions of privacy and misuse of social media, many girls reach puberty presenting with eating disorders, body dysmorphia, self-harming and panic attacks to name a few. You can volunteer to help the next generation of young women, by joining their Big Sister programme.
The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation is an organisation with core principles of raising awareness of Body Dysmorphia for the public and healthcare professionals, and to relieve the suffering of those with BDD by creating a sense of community for those affected by the disorder. The BDD Foundation have a volunteering scheme encapsulating a range of ways in which you can help educate others and offer crucial support to those struggling with the disorder. They have partnered with OCD Action to create volunteer roles to support the helpline and advocacy.
Heads Together is a mental health initiative headed by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Their campaign to confront the stigma around mental health has resulted in significant progress in changing conversations, but there are still challenges to be faced. Their 2019 campaign, the #MentalHealthMinute invites people to recognise the importance of listening to others and the difference it can make to people’s lives if you take the time to do so. Check out the campaign to find out how you can volunteer with Heads Together.
SANE is a leading mental health charity working to increase public awareness, stimulate research and bring about more successful methods of treatment to those affected by mental illness. They provide ongoing emotional support and information to people experiencing difficult circumstances or more serious mental health issues. Their helpline, textcare and support forum services are provided by volunteers who undergo a training programme to acquire the right skills and knowledge to support those who turn to SANE for help. Find out ways that you could volunteer here.