#EndtheEdit has been launched by St Andrew's Healthcare to help raise its profile as a charity and to remind people that chasing perfection via social media can be damaging.
The campaign has been created with the support of patient Mercedys Gunnels, who suffers from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and has waived her patient anonymity to help increase awareness.
BDD is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance, which are often unnoticeable to others.
Mercedys experienced a traumatic childhood which led to a damaging self-hatred and involved her turning to alcohol to try to make herself feel better. At her worst, the 32-year-old was drinking heavily everyday day and refused to have any mirrors in her house.
Mercedys said: “I never ever let people take full body shots of me and I always use filters when posting pictures online. I have never been happy with the way I look so I like to hide behind filters on all my pictures.”
Figures suggest one in five people feel shame about their body image which is damaging their mental health.
Together, with St Andrew’s Healthcare, Mercedys wants to promote natural beauty among online users and is encouraging people to retweet the hashtag #EndTheEdit – The real you is beautiful.
The organisation is hoping the online campaign, which encourages people to post an undoctored picture of themselves onto social media, will reach as many people as possible.
Mercedys, who has two young children, said she wanted to front the campaign to set a good example to her daughters.
She said: “I was on the phone to my eldest talking about her forthcoming visit at the weekend and she said to me ‘promise me mummy you won’t wear any false eyelashes or red lipstick, I want to see my real pretty mummy’. When I heard that I realised I have to stop hating myself and show the real me. Real beauty is important and we should be promoting that online, rather than trying to portray perfection that just doesn’t exist.”
Integrative Psychotherapist Liz Ritchie, the charity’s body image expert, is leading the way, having posted a photo of herself onto Twitter using #EndTheEdit.
Liz said: “Figures suggest 19 per cent of us say they are disgusted with their body. I think a lot of these negative feelings come from social media and people using these filters and editing apps to promote idealised images of perfect skin and bodies. But we must remember that perfectionism simply doesn’t exist.
“The way we talk to people and ourselves is very important and plays a huge part in our self-esteem as Mercedys herself has realised. But, there’s no doubt that social media has played a huge part in setting unrealistic expectations of perfection.
“Everytime we log on and scroll we’re bombarded with perfect faces and figures which everyone feels like they need to live up to.
“In recent years, I’ve seen an increase in many of my patients who now heavily rely on hiding behind filters or photo editing, because they are fearful of showing their real, beautiful faces online. It’s time we End the Edit and show that real is beautiful.”
Former GP and St Andrew’s Healthcare’s CEO Dr Vivienne McVey said: “It’s a sad state of affairs when expectation of perfection stops us appreciating the amazing reality of our bodies. In this day and age, particularly among the younger generation, it can be very easy to forget who ‘the real you is’ which is why we launched the EndTheEdit campaign.
“We really need to remind people that being real is even more beautiful than living up to everybody else’s expectations. Don’t be afraid to show the real you online. Be loud, be proud and be real.”
To join in with the online campaign upload a picture of yourself to any social media channel and post using the hashtag #EndTheEdit and tag any friends or family who you think might want to take part to.
Following a re-inspection the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has improved the overall rating of the Women’s Services from ‘inadequate’ to ‘requires improvement’. In addition, the service has also been rated as ‘good’ in the caring and responsive categories.
The published report relates to an inspection that was carried out in April and May, 2022, during which the regulator spoke to staff and service users, as well as reviewing care records, policies and procedures.
This is the third inspection since 2020. During the previous two inspections, the Women’s Service had been rated inadequate.
The report positively mentions the compassion with which St Andrew’s treats patients, and the individualised, recovery-focused care plans it has in place.
The Chief executive at St Andrew’s Healthcare, Dr Vivienne McVey, said: “We are pleased the CQC has recognised the progress made across our women’s service over the last year, and we’re encouraged to see we are now rated as ‘good’ in the caring and responsive categories of the report. We are also delighted the CQC recognised the cultural shifts we have made at St Andrew’s by embedding transparency, respect and inclusivity into all aspects of our work.
“This is just the first step on our quality improvement programme. We know there is still a lot of work to be done, and cultural change does not happen overnight. But we are encouraged by the ‘improved’ rating in the report which has highlighted some green shoots of change and recovery within our service.
“Since the CQC last visited we have implemented a new system which is aimed at tackling staffing shortages on wards. The CQC also recognised the steps we have taken to reduce restrictive practices.
“We have also taken a pioneering step forward by working with five neighbouring Healthcare Trusts in the East Midlands to further focus our improvements, to ensure we deliver the highest quality of care for our patients.”
Executive Medical Director at St Andrew’s Healthcare, Sanjith Kamath said: “Although it’s reassuring the CQC has recognised the improvements we have made, we fully understand as a Charity we still have a long way to go in addressing some of the key issues which have been identified, such as staffing which the CQC highlighted.
“There is no denying the fact that as an organisation we are still feeling the impact of the pandemic, and much like our colleagues in the NHS, the national shortage of healthcare staff.
“Improving quality of care and overturning an embedded internal culture can be a difficult process within a large organisation such as St Andrew’s Healthcare, but it’s something we are absolutely committed to and determined to change.”