Study highlights mental health impact of bullying in schools

By Jess Brown

| 16 November 2015

Around half of young people who have been bullied at school have experienced mental health problems as a result, a study has found.

Almost half of children who were bullied at school said it impacted on their mental health. Picture: Newscast Online

Research by the Anti-Bullying Alliance found that out of 1,496 young people polled, around two thirds had been bullied.

Of those who had been bullied, nearly half (44 per cent) said the experience impacted on their mental health and that they experienced issues such as anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Nearly half (46 per cent) said that being bullied has had a long-lasting effect on their self-esteem and confidence since leaving school and almost 37 per cent of those bullied said it had a negative effect on their ability to form personal relationships.

However 70 per cent of 170 teachers who were questioned said they feel ill-equipped to support children with mental health issues related to bullying.

And of 126 family doctors surveyed, 92 per cent said they had received no formal training, resources or information to help them support children and young people with symptoms relating to bullying.

Lauren Seager-Smith, national co-ordinator of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, said bullying is a public health issue. 

“We all need to play our part to stop bullying wherever and whenever it happens – whether it’s in school, the community or online – but it’s vital that we also invest in support for children and families impacted by bullying.

“We would like to see more training for teachers and health professionals, in school counselling, and much-needed funds for child and adolescent mental health services.”

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of Young Minds, said: "We tend to think of bullying as a series of throwaway incidents in a child's life but this survey shows how devastating and life-changing the experience of bullying can be.

“If it isn't dealt with effectively it can lead to years of pain and suffering that go on long into adulthood.

“We need to skill-up teachers, parents and GPs to be able to respond to victims in ways that make them feel listened to, taken seriously and cared for.”

CYP Now is hosting a national conference on 3 December, Children's Mental Health: Policy and Practice, with speakers from government and academia and a range of practical workshop sessions.

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