Cosmetic procedure clinics are to screen customers for mental health issues before administering Botox and fillers, it has been announced today.
Employees at clinics belonging to a professional body will be trained to spot conditions such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), and direct customers deemed at risk to relevant NHS services.
BDD affects an estimated 1 in 50 people in the UK, causing them to obsess over perceived flaws in their appearance that are often invisible to others. It's believed to be especially prevalent among teenagers and young people.
The Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) agreed to implement the new mental health checks following a meeting with NHS England, which warned earlier this year that "pressures on young people’s mental health are greater than they ever have been", fuelled partly by the rise of social media.
Superdrug has already agreed to implement mental health checks for customers seeking cosmetic procedures as a result of NHS England advice.
"Cosmetic procedures like Botox, now widely available on the high street, are putting people at risk and can have a damaging effect on the mental health of young people," Kitty Wallace of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation said today.
"We know that people with body image problems are more likely to turn to 'quick fix' procedures with body dysmorphic disorder - a condition which causes distress and significantly impacts on quality of life."
Professor Stephen Powis of NHS England welcomed the JCCP's decision to introduce mental health checks, but pointed out that clinics which are not members of this professional body remain under no obligation to screen customers for BDD.
“Voluntary steps on their own mean mental health too often will still be left in the hands of [cosmetic procedure] providers operating as a law unto themselves," he warned.
Professor Powis, who has also called on social media sites to ban "damaging" celebrity diet adverts, added: "Appearance is one of the things that matters most to young people, and the bombardment of idealised images and availability of quick-fix procedures is helping fuel a mental health and anxiety epidemic."