October marks National Bullying Prevention Month, a campaign designed to educate people about the link between mental health and bullying. National Bullying Prevention Month activities and events encourage participants to work together to end bullying. They also teach people about the mental health effects of bullying, as well as provide tools and resources that empower individuals to educate friends, family members, and others about the short- and long-term dangers of bullying.
What Is Bullying?
Although many people associate bullying with schoolyard conflict, bullying and harassment can be significant problems in adulthood as well. Bullying refers to unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHS). A bully uses physical strength, embarrassing information, or popularity to harm or control others. Additionally, a bully performs repeated behaviors like making threats or attacking someone physically or verbally.
There are three types of bullying:
- Physical: Involves harming a person’s body or possessions.
- Social: Involves intentionally hurting someone’s reputation or relationships.
- Verbal: Involves saying or writing mean things about a person.
Workplace bullying and harassment is a problem for men and women across the United States. In fact, according to Forbes, a recent study showed that 75% of employees said they were affected by bullying, either as a witness or target.
Workplace bullying occurs when an employee is impacted by abusive conduct that hampers their ability to work. This type of adult bullying tends to be both social and verbal in nature.
Bullying, whether in the workplace or elsewhere, comes in two forms: direct or indirect. Direct bullying occurs in the presence of a targeted individual, while indirect bullying occurs via spreading rumors or gossip. Regardless of how an individual is bullied, the mental health effects of bullying make it difficult for them to function.
What Are the Short-Term Mental Health Effects of Bullying?
In the short term, being the victim of bullying may result in one or more of the following mental health effects:
- Social isolation
- Feelings of shame, guilt, and/or hopelessness
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty sleeping
- Avoidance of social situations
Comparatively, the short-term mental health effects of bullying for a bully include:
- Self-destructive behavior
- Difficulty building and/or maintaining social relationships
- Suicidal thoughts
If an individual is dealing with any of the aforementioned mental health effects of bullying, it is important to seek out support immediately. By discussing bullying with a family member, friend, or mental health counselor, an individual can get help to find the best way to cope with adult bullying and its mental health effects.
What Are the Long-Term Mental Health Effects of Bullying?
The long-term mental health effects of bullying on a victim include:
- Chronic depression
- Substance abuse
- Suicidal thoughts and/or attempts
- Anxiety disorders
For a bully, the long-term mental health effects of bullying include:
- Increased risk of child abuse
- Increased risk of antisocial behavior
- Substance abuse
- . . Chronic depression
- Difficulty finding a job and/or getting an education
There is no reason to let bullying persist. Instead, individuals can take steps to stop bullying before it happens.
How to Address Bullying
A bystander may feel powerless to stop bullying as it happens. However, there are various things that a bystander can do to address bullying, such as:
- Speak Up: Ask a bully to stop or encourage others around you to leave.
- Approach the Victim: Ask the victim if he or she is OK and invite this individual to leave the scene with you.
- Notify the Police: Call the police or 911 if a bully is physically harming a victim.
- Provide Support: Remind the victim that the bullying is not his or her fault and provide this individual with plenty of support in the aftermath of a bullying incident.
For people who witness bullying, now is the time to take action. By acting in the moment to stop a bullying incident, an individual can make a world of difference in the lives of both a victim and a bully.
How to Treat the Mental Health Effects of Bullying
A diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder is commonly associated with bullying. Medication and psychotherapy are commonly used to help individuals cope with the serious effects of depression. Doctors may prescribe antidepressant medications to help a person manage depression, anxiety, and other mental health effects of bullying. They may also recommend psychotherapy, which enables a person to discuss bullying with a mental health counselor and develop strategies to deal with thoughts and feelings associated with bullying and the depression that often accompanies it.
In addition to medication and psychotherapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy helps individuals address severe depression associated with bullying. During TMS therapy, an individual receives magnetic pulses that stimulate neurons in regions of the brain responsible for depression symptoms. TMS therapy does not cause side effects frequently associated with depression medications. In addition, TMS therapy is not painful, and does not involve electrical shocks or anesthesia, and patients can resume their normal activities immediately following a TMS therapy session.
Achieve TMS is the leading provider of TMS therapy in the United States, and we are happy to help an individual determine if he or she qualifies for TMS therapy for severe depression. To schedule a free TMS therapy consultation with Achieve TMS, please contact us online or call or text us at 877-296-5032.