In the 1800s it was sex, the 1900s divorce and to this day in China it is the number 4. The taboo. That thing considered so terrible it should never be talked about in public.
History has proved taboos were meant to be broken though and now finally the walls are starting to come down on one of Britain’s biggest – mental health. For too many years, our mental health has been something to hide, but thankfully thinking about our mental wellbeing is now literally a positive thing.
We’re being encouraged to take care of ourselves and others – which has led to some helpful regulation in the cosmetic treatment sector.
Treatments can have a positive impact on our mental health by increasing self-esteem and decreasing anxiety among other ways. However, for a few people treatments are not a healthy option – mentally healthy that is.
Around 1 in 50 people are thought to suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, or ‘body dysmorphia’. This condition causes obsessive worries about perceived flaws in appearance that are often not obvious to others. Sufferers can be left feeling anxious, lonely and at risk of eating disorders or self-harm. They are also vulnerable when it comes to cosmetic procedures - body dysmorphia may leave people seeking treatments they really don’t need.
In response to this, the cosmetic surgery industry is taking steps to stop vulnerable clients being exploited. Rather than profit from unnecessary procedures, practitioners are being encouraged to enquire about a client’s mental health and act responsibly.
So what does all this mean for anyone after a treatment or two?
Here are my answers to some popular questions, but if you have others or would like to discuss anything further, please contact me.
How will you ask me about my mental health?
Naturally. I always discuss all aspects of treatments with clients and as part of this I will get to know you better. As an experienced GP, it is my job to automatically be aware of any potential issues and encourage you to seek further help if needed. Any discussion will always be for your benefit.
Will you contact my doctor if I disclose anything?
No, if I think you need to re-consider your treatment choices, the only person I will discuss this with is you. I may well encourage you to contact them though.
Will I be refused treatment if I have a diagnosed mental illness?
So long as the treatment won’t have a negative impact on you, then definitely not. As I said earlier, cosmetic treatments can be very positive too. Having depression or anxiety will not automatically leave you unable to have a treatment.
Can I go to a practitioner who doesn’t ask any questions?
Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend that for many reasons. No responsible practitioner will want to take advantage of you, but some less reputable ones might.
As we begin to break the mental health taboo, it is important that the cosmetic surgery industry acts responsibly. Treatments can have a truly positive impact, but remember that your wellbeing should always be the priority.