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The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is Body Image and it’s a pertinent topic for those of us working in the health & fitness, and spa & beauty industries. Is your leisure business getting involved this week?
Learn more about Mental Health Awareness Week and how you can support it at https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week
The conversations around mental health have increased exponentially over the last decade. The steady removal of stigma and the decreasing reluctance to embrace the mental issues that define our very individuality may well be seen as a pivotal moment in the societal shift in our lifetime. This shift in how we accept each other affects every sector including the leisure industry, few more so than the health & beauty sector.
Spa & Beauty and body image
The beauty and wellness sector provides therapeutic services and products for clients. The whole ethos of the sector is to make clients feel good about themselves, but the focus is changing from how people are made to feel confident about the way they look to how people are gaining confidence through the way they feel. The focus much more is on the mental wellbeing of clients and how beauty and spa therapy can play a part in this. Has your spa and beauty business been shifting to cater to this new way of thinking?
The leisure industry has seen many campaigns recently where ‘real people’ are being used in marketing ads instead of models. ‘Real people’ are being used to highlight body-positive messages and work towards reducing the anxiety surrounding the issue of body image.
The ‘This Girl Can’ Campaign is a great example of how not focussing on body image but how promoting mental wellbeing alongside mental and physical strength can have positive effects. Their research shows ‘many women are put off taking part in physical activity due to a fear of judgement – this might be about the way the look when they exercise, that they’re not good enough to join in or they should be spending more time on their families, studies or other priorities’ http://www.thisgirlcan.co.uk/
Soon, there will be a huge push in normalising the diverse range of people who do sport from a disability angle, in a similar vein to the This Girl Can campaign which played a big part in getting more women to take part in sport and exercise. Look out for it, it’s on its way! In beauty, a good example would be the marketing campaigns which use people of all races, genders, and ableness to break the myth that only one type of body is good enough.
The fitness industry and body image
The fitness industry has a crucial role in promoting body positive messages. The leisure industry is in a unique vantage point of being able to focus on building ‘healthy’ bodies and people who are confident regardless of their shape, height, weight or shoe size. Making health about health and not ‘body image’ is a task that the leisure industry can and will succeed in. Making health about overall wellness is already well underway and the future is already looking healthy.
The conversations that Mental Health Awareness Week raises are important every year – this year that of ‘Body Image’ is central to our industry and as such a conversation the industry will have to be a part of moving forward.
Promoting mental wellness
If your leisure business is not concerned with the growing focus on mental wellbeing, then it should be. Not only could your company help the thousands of people with mental health concerns but it’s good for business; more and more people are demanding therapies and training that incorporates mental wellbeing and promoting classes and programmes that only look at physical health won’t cut it for long.
Could there be more mental health counsellors within community leisure facilities? Everyone is talking about how exercise can boost people’s body confidence but that’s only half the battle. If operators really are concerned with wellness rather than just fitness, then there needs to be a shift towards a more comprehensive array of services from those that tackle obesity and healthy eating to those that work purely on mental wellbeing. It would seem to be the next natural step.
We’d love to see mental health services in public leisure centres, private gyms and spas but, are the UK public ready to open up?
Body image is a state of mind and too often a negative body image will stop people from getting the help that they need to improve their physical health and prevent disease. By removing the idea that there is a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ body type, more people will feel that they are able to access health and wellbeing services. Your business can play a huge role in increasing participation from people with diverse body types and get them on the road to better health both physically and mentally.
How much is your leisure business keeping up with the mental wellbeing trend?