WANTING to look more beautiful/handsome/slimmer/muscular than we think we do is not a new phenomenon.

Diet and exercise regimes, makeup, fake tan and all manner of beauty products are some of the methods people use to achieve their goals.

Cosmetic surgery – liposuction, lip augmentation, facelifts, and boob jobs – have become increasingly popular in the past couple of decades.

This increase in the number of people pursuing their idea of ‘perfection’ has come against a backdrop of young people being bombarded with images from magazines, TV and movies and, more recently, social media.

The age of the ‘selfie’ photograph has apparently spawned a new concern – ‘selfie dysmorphia’.

Selfies can be doctored using ‘filters’ to remove skin flaws, straighten noses, make eyes bigger and accentuate cheek and jaw bones.

In a worrying trend, people have been reported visiting cosmetic surgeons, bringing with them filtered photos of themselves (which bear little resemblance to their real faces) and asking for work to make them look like their digitally enhanced selfie.

According to a report in The Guardian this week, cosmetic doctor Tijion Esho had noticed this disturbing development.

In the past, patients brought in photos of celebrities and asked for a jawline or a nose like a famous actress or model.

Now, they are asking for photos of themselves that have been airbrushed to erase perceived flaws to be replicated by surgery.

Some experts believe that this quest for perfection and wanting to look like an enhanced version of yourself could trigger body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) in some.

A condition like this where people become unhealthily fixated on imagined defects in their appearance is clearly a mental illness.

Progress is being made to raise awareness of mental health issues, as more people - especially young adults - come forward to talk about their condition and seek help.

Although smart phones and the internet enable us to communicate in amazing ways, these new technological developments have a dark side too.

The desire to fit in, look the best, present the picture that you are one of the beautiful people living a great life can lead to severe mental health problems.

More and more schools, colleges and universities are now investing a lot of time and resource into understanding and monitoring the mental well-being of their students.

It makes sense to ensure that children from an early age learn not just about maths, English and science, but also how to feel good about themselves.

That means accepting that people are not perfect and that life is unfair.

If they can be taught to embrace a positive psychology, they will be equipped with the mental strength and coping strategies to navigate the inevitable obstacles that everyone encounters in life. To bounce back when they have been figuratively knocked down.

The earlier that children can learn this the better.

Otherwise, it will become - if it hasn’t already – a ticking mental health timebomb that will eventually go off and be too big for our health service to handle.