One in eight adults in the UK have experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of concerns about their body image a new study has found.

The online survey of 4,505 UK adults aged 18 and over was commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation to mark the launch of Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year has the theme of body image.

Published as part of a report - Body Image: How we think and feel about our bodies - it found that just over one third of UK adults have felt anxious (34 per cent), or depressed (35 per cent) because of concerns about their body image.

Almost one in five UK adults (19 per cent) have felt “disgusted” because of their body image and one in five (20 per cent) said they had felt “shame” because of their body image in the last year.

The survey found that body image issues affected adult UK women more than men, with one in ten women (10 per cent) saying they have self-harmed or “deliberately hurt themselves” because of their body image, compared to 4 per cent of men.

But the survey found that body image issues can also affect large numbers of men, with a quarter of men (25 per cent) saying they have felt depressed because of concerns about their body image.

The charity is demanding reform in relation to social media and advertising that is linked to worry about body image.

Mental Health Foundation Chief Executive Mark Rowland said: “Our survey indicates that millions of adults in the UK are struggling with concerns about their body image. For some people this is potentially very severe, with large numbers saying they have self-harmed or had suicidal thoughts and feelings.

“Women, and particularly young women, are showing the highest rates of distress. Significant numbers have felt feelings of disgust and shame or changed their behaviour to avoid situations that make them reflect negatively about their bodies.

“But body image issues can affect anyone and at any stage in life. Our research suggests that a worrying proportion of men have felt anxious or depressed about their bodies.

“Many people identified social media as an important factor causing them to worry about their body image - and the majority of respondents felt the Government needed to take more action.”

Body image: Tips for you

  • If your body image is a significant cause of stress, or if you’re being bullied about how your body looks, consider talking to a friend, a trusted adult or a health professional
  • Spring-clean your apps on your smartphone
  • Notice the people and accounts you’re following on social media and be mindful of how you feel about your own body and appearance when you look at them
  • If you see an advert in a magazine, on television or online that you think presents an unhealthy body image as aspirational, you can complain to the Advertising Standards Authority
  • At home, parents and carers can lead by example, by modelling positive behaviour around body image, eating healthily and staying active
  • In our daily lives, we can all be more aware of the ways in which we speak about our own and other people’s bodies in casual conversations with friends and family
  • Find the best way that works for you to stay active

To read the full list click here.