- Studies have highlighted the negative relationship between mental health and bullying.
- In recent years, bullying has spiked incidences of mental illness, including depression, anxiety, and suicide.
What Is Bullying?
Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior that involves intentionally harming, harassing, or intimidating someone or a group, perceived as vulnerable. It often involves the misuse of power through habitual and frequent physical, verbal, and social behavior that intends to cause harm, physically and psychologically.
Bullying can be of multiple types:
- Physical bullying, or physically hurting someone or damaging their possessions
- Verbal bullying, involving name-calling or the use of aggressive body language
- Relational bullying, or social aggression and exclusion
- Cyberbullying, or the use of technology to bully someone
- Collective bullying, such as trolling
- Mobbing, such as workplace harassment and emotional abuse in the community
Mental Health And Bullying
Many have argued that bullying can teach life lessons and instill psychological resilience. However, bullying is often associated with poor mental health, including:
- Low self-esteem
- Body image and identity issues
- Eating and sleep disorders
- Mood disorders like depression
- Social withdrawal and anxiety
- Substance use disorder (SUD)
What Is The Impact Of Bullying On Mental Health?
Bullying and mental health in statistics reflect a grim reality. 32% of children globally are bullied during the school year. This form of abuse is strongly associated with suicide in children, for an average of 15–25 children commit suicide due to unaddressed school bullying and triggered mental health conditions.
Emerging studies show that 4–9% of youths frequently engage in bullying behaviors. However, for working women, people of color, individuals with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, the risk of being bullied is much higher.
The scenario of workplace bullying is much worse. Research shows that 35–79% of working professionals directly or indirectly experience or witness bullying at work.
The overwhelming rates of workplace bullying have also been linked to poor professional productivity, toxic work culture, as well as poor health outcomes and high staff turnover in employees.
Addressing The Mental Health Impact Of Bullying
The most recommended response to bullying is ignoring the bullies and their unwelcome aggression. Other suggestions involve confronting the bullies or turning for help to an authority figure.
Nonetheless, experts have suggested that the teaching of anti-bullying coping skills from a young age can equip a person adequately when it comes to dealing with bullying—whether that bullying occurs at home, school, or the workplace.
Teaching carers and teachers with anti-bullying skill sets can also reduce bullying incidence rates. In the workplace, fostering a healthy working environment and reinforcing strict bylaws can be effective in reducing unwarranted aggression.