Bullying is a serious threat to young people today. According to the Department of Education, one in six young people reported being bullied in the previous 12 months. Bullying is a very serious issue as it can negatively impact individuals’ mental health negatively.
What is the link between bullying and mental health?
Our mental health can fluctuate due to various environmental or personal factors. The ways in which an individual interacts with their environment and society is a big influence on these factors. Experiencing bullying can be distressing and frightening and can therefore impact an individual’s mental health, emotional-wellbeing and identity.
Interestingly, there is a cycle between bullying and mental health issues. Young people are more likely to develop mental health issues as a result of bullying. Also, young people who have mental health issues are more likely to be bullied.
What are common impacts on mental health for the victim?
The impacts of bullying can be devastating, both in the short term and the long term. Some common short-term impact include:
- Social isolation
- Feelings of shame
- Sleep disturbance
- Changes in eating habits
- School avoidance
- Poor school performance
- Low self-esteem
- Symptoms of anxiety
- Symptoms of depression
- Higher risk of illness
- Psychosomatic symptoms (stomachaches, headaches, muscle aches, other physical complaints with no known medical cause)
However, it is important to also look at the bigger picture. Bullying doesn’t just happen in the moment, it often sticks with the victim and they will remember the abuse that they faced. Long-term impacts of bullying can include:
- Chronic depression
- Increased risk of suicidal thoughts, suicide plans, and suicide attempts
- Anxiety disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Poor general health
- Self-destructive behaviour, including self-harm
- Substance abuse
- Difficulty establishing trusting, reciprocal friendships and relationships