Good behaviours define mental well-being

We all love to maintain friendly and fun relationships around us because that is where we develop a sense of being valued and accepted. Such relationships involve behaviours that offer help, peace, satisfaction, honest feedback that further strengthens one’s self-esteem, fosters positive qualities of kindness and forgiveness and helps one have a well-defined personality combined with good mental and/or physical well-being.

The negative impact of bullying on mental health

On the flip side if we are welcomed or treated in ways such as being rude, harsh, experience abuses etc.,  it not only makes one feel bad or uncomfortable but can also go to the extent of experiencing mental abnormalities. One among many such behaviours linked to lasting and serious negative impacts on one’s mental well-being is bullying.

Occurring almost everywhere and for most school or college-going age groups, bullying involves largely unprovoked and intentional actions or efforts to harm which can take many forms:

  • physical (punching or strangling)
  • emotional (rejection or humiliation)
  • virtual (posting threats or false facts online)
  • verbal (teasing or hurtful name-calling)
  • sexual (sexual harassment or voyeurism)

Studies have over the past two decades reported that each of these behavioural forms occurs at varying levels of severity and causes extreme psychological distress for the bullied victims that sometimes lead to death or suicide.

With repeated bullying, bullied victims are found to experience the following:

  • less positivity and hope about the future
  • antisocial personality disorder
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • substance abuse
  • schizophrenia
  • decreased academic achievement
  • be extremely violent and so on.

A bullied child or adolescent also prefers to isolate themselves from their surroundings, does not want to go to school/college or speak to any friends, show symptoms of headache, fatigue, disturbed sleep and eating patterns etc.

Additionally, the research highlighted the fact that it is not just those who get bullied but those who bully others who are also at a higher risk of behavioural and mental problems which leads them to engage in unacceptable actions. They are likely to:

  • abuse drugs/alcohol in others
  • engage in violent and sexual activities
  • have criminal connections
  • act abusive to family, friends, romantic partners etc.
A steady and permanent stop to bullying  

Even when the process of stopping bullying is not easy and quick, with a deep commitment to saving the present and future generation from the serious crime of bullying the following can be done:

  • If you ever suspect bullying, it is very important to initiate an open conversation about what the child experiences rather than wait for the child to open up.
  • Help children understand what bullying is, why do people bully, how it feels to be bullied etc., and how the children can stand up to it courageously and safely. For example, ask if the child knows any seniors or teachers they trust, to help them confront those who bully.
  • Encourage children to engage in activities that interest such as volunteering, playing, singing, join clubs which not only distracts them from the trauma they experience but help build confidence and connection that help protect children from bullying
  • On the other hand, it is important to help bullies realizes why they should stop their hurtful behaviour. Efforts of engaging them in bullying prevention programs aimed at raising awareness of increasing depression and suicide rates, how those who get bullied lose their mental and emotional stability etc., have proven to help those who bully to understand it is definitely not good to be a victim of the bully.
  • Additionally, educators and parents can also effortfully provide a positive school climate and supportive home environments that will reduce the bullying severity and rates, help all understand how to quit bullying, and educate on how to handle bullying.
  • Further, socio-emotional learning programmes encourage children to choose positive expressions, manage their behaviours, be confident to report if any act goes off control or help if others get bullied, thus enhancing the mental and emotional well-being of both the bullied and those who bully.
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