‘Have compassion and acceptance for your body’ is the message to young people for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week by local singer and mental health campaigner
A Leeds-based singer and mental health campaigner, Mirander Arieh, is backing this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (13 – 19 May) which looks at body image; from her own experience she is encouraging young people across Leeds to have compassion and acceptance for their bodies.
Miranda, who had a long battle with eating disorders in her teens and struggled with her body image in her early 20s, wants young people to appreciate their bodies.
Miranda, said: “Having more compassion, acceptance and appreciating your body is not always easy especially when you’re struggling with your body image or Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Looking back I struggled with my recovery but as time went on, I learned to manage my body image in a different way. What really helped me was undertaking mindfulness and talking to myself, as though how I would talk to a friend. It can be really difficult to speak to yourself in this manner if you are used to being unkind to yourself, but it can really help. However, if you struggle with this, reach out for help from someone that you can trust, don’t ever feel ashamed to ask for help. It’s good to challenge the voice in your head rather than worrying what others think.
“If you’re struggling to talk to yourself or someone else, visit the MindMate website (https://www.mindmate.org.uk/), it has a section specifically dedicated to self-image and where you can go for support. I’m honoured to be supporting MindMate as it’s a great website which provides mental health and emotional wellbeing advice and information to young people across Leeds.”
Dr Jane Mischenko, Commissioning Lead for Children & Maternity Services at NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “If you’re worried about how you look or worried what others think of you, do talk to someone and visit the MindMate website. It has information on self-image and where you can go for further information.
“It’s important that you care for and accept yourself. Too often young people compare themselves to others and feel under significant pressure to look a certain way. They can be incredibly self-critical. Miranda’s advice to talk to yourself with compassion, as you would to a friend and to seek help is very wise.
“There may be some young people who may not be able to control their body image, this may be due to the medication they’re taking or other personal reasons. If this is the case then I would encourage those individuals to keep active and eat healthy, as it’s good for your mind and body, information on staying active and healthy can be found on the MindMate website”.
Case study – Miranda Arieh, age 35
At the age of 14, Miranda was running away from home a lot; she struggled with her mental health and didn’t have much support from anyone. Miranda, was self-harming, overdosing, had depression, starving herself and binge eating at times.#
“I was placed in foster care in Morley and in a week or two I was sectioned. At that time I was sent to Linton House at High Royds Hospital, which has now closed down, the hospital provided community mental health services. I had no one to turn to, I didn’t really know my foster parents and I didn’t have a good relationship with my mum, and had no other family member to turn to. I had a tough time in hospital as I was given drugs, which have now been banned for anyone under the age of 18 and I was being sedated a lot of the time. However, being in hospital actually saved my life. I was given a guitar (with only one string!) and as soon as I started to play this I was writing songs. This was a huge turning point for me, as I loved my music and through my music I was able to express myself, which really helped me.
“After spending nine months in hospital, I went back into foster care and my foster parents; Lorraine Long (MBE) and Phil Long were absolutely amazing, they were brilliant and really cared for me.
“At the age of 16 I moved into my own flat on my own, this was done through the leaving care team and LYPHT (Leeds Young Persons Housing Team). Living on my own was very difficult as I had to budget well and was only having one meal a day, which was really hard.
“I went to Leeds College of Art & Design but unfortunately I had to drop out because I started working full-time at a fruit and veg shop, to be able to pay my bills and rent.
“I joined my first band who were called ‘Mutiny’ and I had my first experience of gigging live which was really exciting for me. Performing brought so much joy to me and I was able to express myself through the lyrics. Unfortunately after a year and half the band split up and I struggled with this but I still continued writing songs.
“At the age of 22, I had my daughter and I suffered with bad post-natal depression. My first visitor in hospital was my CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse). Music helped me get through the post-natal depression but I also took it upon myself to reach out for help through volunteering at the local community centre. I also had a support worker (Jayne Croston) and the support she gave me was life changing. She was just brilliant and such a positive role model. She also helped me apply for a grant to get a guitar.
“I started to volunteer at Burley Lodge Centre and I then applied for funding to hold art and music sessions at the centre which I was successful in receiving. The sessions were for single mums with children; this really helped with my overall mental health.
“I’ve shared my story to break down barriers and stigma and have gone on as an adult to work with a number of mental health organisations like Time to Change, Mind, Community Links and currently Advonet. I feel on a personal level that music has been an important party of my recovery so I’m planning on working with some hospital trusts to introduce music making sessions in mental health units, under the banner ‘Music Saves Lives’ within the next couple of years.”
Notes to editors
MindMate is a dedicated mental health and emotional wellbeing website (https://www.mindmate.org.uk/) in Leeds for young people (age 12 – 25), parents and professionals who work with young people.
Mental Health Awareness Week (13 – 19 May)
Mental Health Awareness Week (13 – 19 May) is hosted by Mental Health Foundation. The theme for this year is body image.
For further information, please visit https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week
For further information on self-image, visit the MindMate website https://www.mindmate.org.uk/
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