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How does the online world impact our mental health? A crucial issue to be discussed at Expo 2019

‘I’m attending Expo to talk about mental health, as a representative of young people who struggle with their body image.’

Hope Gorton, Digital Marketing Manager and Member of the Reporters’ Academy, will be at Health and Care Innovation Expo 2019 to talk about body image and mental health.

‘Body image, mental health and social media are topics of conversation we’re all aware of but can impact some more than others. In a recent study done by YouGov for the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) that was featured in the Guardian in May 2019, it claimed out of the over 1,000 young people aged 13-19 surveyed, 31% said they were ashamed of their body and 35% had stopped eating or reduced what they ate on a daily basis. Alongside this, 2 in 5 surveyed said they had body image worries or negative body image after directly seeing something on social media.

Those are some pretty terrifying statistics and are just some of the reasons as to why I think it’s important to attend, speak and listen at such events as the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo, in order to open up conversations further and discuss potential, real-life solutions that will help all generations and the many more that are yet to come. For me personally, how we future proof digital platforms is something that I have particular interest in, especially with our current disposable way of life. As a society, we have easy access to almost everything we could ever want, need or desire, but that doesn’t stop us from looking for the next best thing. So how do we make these platforms part of a long-term solution to bring people closer and not just a trend? The online world is so powerful, and it would be wonderful to see it being used for the greater good, to help those who need it, not just seen as something that has negatively impacted our way of thinking and perceiving what’s reality vs. Instagram.

At Expo 2019, I will take part in an exciting panel discussion on 4 September: Life and likes: mental health in the online world. As a young woman and a professional in the digital arena, I’m hoping to be exposed to other opinions, facts and statistics from the other panel members: Claire Murdoch – National Mental Health Director, NHS England and NHS Improvement, Dr Radha Modgil – Broadcaster, author and campaigner for physical and mental wellbeing, Guy Parker – Chief Executive, Advertising Standards Agency and Professor Steve Powis – National Medical Director, NHS England and NHS Improvement. I’m excited to share the stage with such incredible professionals and intellects in order to broaden my knowledge. I’m also positive I’ll leave Expo with new insights into the NHS, the current services it provides for mental health support and what the future looks like as part of the Long Term Plan. I’m doing this as a representative of young people/adults who struggle with their body image or mental health on a daily basis, to show they are not alone, there’s support out there for everyone and together we have an extremely bright future ahead of us. The best is yet to come!’

Health and Care Innovation Expo 2019 is the biggest NHS-led event of the year. Taking place in Manchester on 4 and 5 September, it will gather more than 5,000 attendees from the health, voluntary, industrial and public sectors. View the full agenda and register. Join the conversation on Twitter with #Expo19NHS

Hope Gorton

Hope is a 26-year-old Digital Marketing Manager working in the advertising industry. As a member of The Reporters’ Academy, she has worked with the NHS Youth Forum to teach young people valuable media skills. She recently attended the NHS Youth Voice Summit to discuss young people’s mental health.

Diagnosed with Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in 2015, Hope has experienced first-hand the impact of social media on body image and mental health. She contributed to blogs to raise awareness of the condition – her latest work includes a very honest ‘letter to my gut’ which highlights her personal journey towards accepting her body.

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