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Members of the Sheevawn musical theatre group at the launch of the programme today.
Self Esteem

Online programme to support teens with self-esteem issues

The launch of the programme is to coincide with Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

BODYWHYS, THE EATING Disorders Association of Ireland, has launched a new online programme today to support teenagers with self-esteem and body image issues.

The launch is to coincide with Eating Disorders Awareness Week but the organisation said the programme is aimed at all young people who are struggling with self-esteem.

Service Co-ordinator Harriett Parsons told that the SeeMySelf programme “focuses on issues like self-esteem, body image, media literacy, food and mood and how your thinking can affect your feeling”.

“Young people can sign up through the website or when we do school talks and offer the service to students,” she said. “Each person works through a different module each week, and they’re supported through it by a supporter who checks in with them once a week to encourage them.”

The educational modules include video pieces, personal stories, exercises and take home points. Users can interact with the programme by commenting on what they got from it and sharing those comments publicly.

Parsons said the online aspect on the programme is useful for reaching teens as they engage in it more and more.

“I think online things get bad press sometimes because it’s thought that people aren’t connecting properly,” she said. “With this, there’s a sense of conenectedness, even though you’re doing it on your own you’re part of something bigger. Another advantage of the online part is that it’s lowering the stigma and it can be the first step for people who wouldn’t even pick up the phone to talk because of the anonymity of it.”

However she said supporters, who are all “highly trained volunteers” are a vital part of the programme as they offer direct and personal support to the teens.

Though Parsons said that eating disorders are caused by a host of different factors, low self-esteem, traumatic events, bullying, abuse and bereavements are common triggers.

“What we hear in people’s stories is that triggers come when they are required by life to really be themselves and something about that is very difficult for them,” she said.

Anyone interested in signing up can do so through the Bodywhys website and the organisation is currently planning to take the programme into classrooms.

Read: Vogue editors sign pact to promote healthy body image in the magazine>

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