October is Bullying Prevention Month and a time to shine a light on how bullying affects mental health. Bullying is a serious problem that can have lasting effects on its victims and their mental health. Being the target of bullying can have devastating consequences on someone’s life, leading to depression, anxiety, and even suicide.
Though it’s often thought of as something that affects children, the truth is that adults can be bullied as well. And the effects of bullying can be just as damaging to mental health in adulthood as in childhood. Nearly one in five students in the United States are affected by bullying. And while boys are more likely to be physically bullied, girls are more likely to be the targets of verbal and emotional bullying. Both will negatively impact people’s mental health.
Bullying comes in all forms
Bullying is defined as “a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort.” It can take many forms, including physical violence, verbal harassment, online harassment, and exclusion from social activities. With the rise in social media usage, cyberbullying is becoming more and more prevalent among youth. Approximately 21% of tweens ages 9 to 12 have been cyberbullied, cyberbullied others, or witnessed cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can absolutely lead to a decline in someone’s mental health.
The long-term effects of bullying
While the effects of bullying can be felt immediately, the long-term effects can be just as damaging to a victim’s mental health, if not more so. Victims of bullying often suffer from emotional trauma that can lead to anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, they may struggle with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, and for younger victims- lower academic performance. These issues can persist into adulthood and make it difficult for bullying victims to form healthy relationships or succeed in their careers, due to mental health problems that were never addressed.
Victims of bullying are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drug use and self-harm. In addition, bullies are more likely to experience relationships, employment, and mental health problems. The best way to prevent the harmful effects of bullying is to address the problem head-on. This means educating kids about what bullying is and how it can hurt people and teaching them how to stand up for themselves and others. It also involves creating a safe and supportive environment at school and at home.
How to identify the signs of bullying
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to identify the signs of bullying, as many children are reluctant to speak up about what is happening to them. However, some tell-tale signs may indicate that a child is being bullied. A sudden change in behavior, such as becoming withdrawn or aggressive, may signify something is wrong. Similarly, a child who suddenly starts missing school or begs to stay home from school may be trying to avoid a difficult situation.
Other signs of a child being bullied include coming home with damaged or missing belongings, unexplained injuries, and changes in sleeping or eating habits. If you suspect your child is being bullied, it is important to talk to them about what is going on and encourage them to open up. All these signs may point to bullying, and negatively affected mental health
What to do if your child is being bullied
If you find out that your child is the victim of bullying, let them know that you’re there for them and want to help however you can. Once you’ve talked to your child about what’s going on, you can start taking steps to address the problem. If your child is being bullied at school, reach out to their teacher or the school administration and let them know what’s happening. It’s essential to nip the problem in the bud as soon as possible, so your child doesn’t have to continue dealing with it.
In some cases, you may also want to consider talking to the parents of the child who is doing the bullying. This is a delicate situation, so it’s important to handle it delicately and with caution. You don’t want to make things worse for your child by escalating the situation unnecessarily. In addition to taking action against the bullying, you also need to help your child deal with the aftermath. Bullying can be a traumatic experience and make children’s mental health suffer.
This may include talking to a counselor or therapist near you who can help them process their feelings and develop coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and anxiety. If your child is having difficulty concentrating or doing well in school due to the bullying, tutoring or other academic support may also be necessary.
How to heal from bullying as an adult
Being bullied can have a lasting effect on your mental health and emotional health. As an adult, you may still struggle with feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and depression. Adults who were bullied as children may also have difficulty trusting people and forming close relationships. Many don’t even realize that their reaction to stressors in their life directly results from the trauma they experienced as a result of bullying. It can take years to recover from bullying trauma, and it’s important to seek help so you can start to heal and improve your mental health.
Four things you can do to start the healing journey
Acknowledge what happened. It is important to recognize that what happened was not your fault and that you did not deserve to be treated that way. This can be a complicated process, but it is an essential first step in moving on.
Reach out to loved ones. Talking to people who care about you can help you feel understood and supported. It can also be a helpful way to share your experiences and start to process what happened.
Be gentle with yourself. The healing process takes time, so be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up, and don’t hesitate to seek help if you need it.
Seek professional help. A therapist can provide support and guidance as you work through your experiences. They can also help you develop healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with difficult emotions. Your mental health will thank you.
If you’re struggling with the effects of bullying, contact Serene Health. There is no shame in seeking help, and you deserve to live a life that isn’t controlled by past trauma. Your mental health is important. We have a wide range of behavioral health and mental health services under one roof. We also have appointments available through our Telehealth platform so that you can speak to a therapist online from the comfort of your home. Call us at 844-737-3638 or visit www.serenehealth.com to book an appointment.