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Love Island ads fuel body image problems, warn health leaders

Calls for watchdog to regulate cosmetic surgery adverts

Love Island

Cosmetic surgery advertisements shown during ITV’s hit reality-show Love Island are fuelling body insecurity among young people, say NHS leaders.

In a letter sent to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), NHS leaders have urged broadcasting advertisers to further regulate these adverts, demanding that the industry should be more responsible when it concerns young people’s mental health.

NHS England’s mental health director Claire Murdoch, who wrote the letter that was co-signed by children’s commissioner for England Anne Longfield and president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Professor Wendy Burn, has asked for a meeting with ASA chief executive Guy Parker to discuss the issue.

Murdoch wrote: “Not only are there clear risks associated with cosmetic surgery, but placed alongside the body image pressures that can be inherent in many online and social media interactions, adverts such as these could pose a risk to mental health.”

The current UK Code of Broadcast Advertising states that children must be protected from advertisements that could cause physical, mental or moral harm, but the letter questions its efficacy.

The recent backlash has followed comments made by NHS England’s chief executive Simon Steven during the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

He said: “Look at the adverts that are being shown alongside Love Island. You’ve got explicit ads aiming at young women around breast cosmetic surgery.

“That is all playing into a set of pressures around body image that are showing up as a burden on other services.”

Feminist organisations have responded to the issue, with one group creating a social media campaign #LoveIslandAds, hoping that a public outrage will see the removal of the targeted advertisements.

Responding to the NHS England’s letter however, Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Mental Health Network, part of the NHS Confederation said: “It is great to see NHS England bringing attention to this issue.

“We know young women are the fastest growing group suffering from mental health issues, that anxiety problems are more common among women aged 16-24 and that a quarter of women in this age bracket have reported self-harming.

“Issues around body image will only add fuel to the fire so this is a really important intervention which our members support.”

The NHS has long been criticised about the availability of its mental health services across the UK, but focussing on prevention rather than treatment could be a step in the right direction for the cash-stripped service.

Duggan added: “Our members are doing some fantastic work both in prevention and treating people with mental health problems but services are lacking the funding they need.

“The long term NHS investment plan is the perfect opportunity to put this right – it is vital that mental health gets its fair share of this funding.”

Photo credit: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

Article by
Gemma Jones

23rd July 2018

From: Healthcare

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