You are currently viewing Impact of Bullying on Mental Health and How to Overcome it

Impact of Bullying on Mental Health and How to Overcome it

  • Post author:
  • Post category:Health

Bullying is a recurring menace in society. Even the most outgoing individuals suffer significant blows to their mental health, self-esteem, and overall well-being. For reserved individuals, it may be twice as difficult. With the current conversation surrounding bullying on social media and the news coverage of bullying-related suicides, it becomes important to talk about it. Let’s look at some impact of bullying, using personal experiences.

Being an introvert in secondary school made bullying sting even worse. Bullying goes far beyond just physical violence. It’s the deliberate exclusion of a person from activities and calculated actions designed to hurt and belittle. In my case, it wasn’t exactly slaps, punches, or fists; it was silence. A united army of my classmates against me, where when the leader was upset with me, the rest made it unbearable, the name-calling, days when my books were taken from my locker and scattered in front of each class. The embarrassment that came with bending to pick up the books from the doors of each class, the laughter, the jest. I still remember it, a little too clearly.

Five years after graduation, I sometimes struggle with not speaking up. Back then, I feared speaking up would only make it worse, but now I see things differently. While I dealt with it alone (which I don’t recommend!), this personal experience inspired me to share tips for handling bullies, explore the impact of bullying, and offer guidance for parents to recognize the signs and effectively address the issue.

Impact of bullying

Effects of bullying on individuals

  1. Low self-esteem: Being picked on comes with an overwhelming feeling of self-doubt. I remember whenever I was ignored, I had the constant question as to why it was only me they chose. The hurtful words, name-calling, and insults piled up so much in my head; that it started to feel like my reality, and I believed it. I was so insecure about my looks, stature, and outfits, literally, everything about me made me insecure. I believe this is the same for most individuals who face bullying. There’s the ultimate result of seeing themselves through the eyes of their bullies.
  1. Anxiety: Imagine a racing heart and sweaty palms, that’s the constant anxiety bullying can cause. Many victims who experience bullying may have these physical symptoms, especially when they’re faced with their bullies or even the mere thought of what else is to be faced the next day.
  1. Decreased academic achievement: Many people who experience bullying often go from being the best students to performing below proper standards. This is because the emotional pain and negativity make it difficult to focus on schoolwork. Skipping classes may seem like the only alternative, but it ends up affecting their academic performance.
  1. Extreme feeling of sadness: Bullying can leave you feeling extremely sad. It’s like there are a million things in your head at once, and you can’t seem to make sense of any of it. The constant question of where and how it all went wrong. I remember holding back tears amidst taunts because I didn’t want to give bullies the satisfaction. Breaking down in front of bullies only fuels their pride, as seeing their prey in so much pain brings them comfort and satisfaction.
  1. Isolation: A common effect bullying has on individuals even after a long term is isolation. Victims of bullying most likely shut out others and prefer to isolate themselves, not only because this is what they’re used to, but also because it becomes more difficult for them to give access to people, so they go for the safest option which is to isolate themselves from others. But in reality, isolation isn’t the safest option, it’s the loneliest.

Signs parents should look out for:

– Withdrawal: If your child who’s generally outgoing and energetic suddenly starts practicing distance.

– Loss of interest in school, schoolwork, or a sudden decline in grades.

– Unexplained cuts, bruises, or injuries.

– Appears constantly sad or depressed.

– Seems afraid of going to school or taking the school bus.

– Appears more irritable or angry.

– Daydreaming or appearing preoccupied.

(Note: These signs do not necessarily mean that your child is being bullied, but they’re signs worthy of looking out for and having a conversation about.)

If you suspect your child is being bullied, you may want to avoid asking directly, as most kids try to protect their bullies, not because they want to, but because they fear if they don’t, they’d only be subjected to even worse bullying. So before asking your child about whether or not they’re being bullied, make sure the atmosphere is comfortable, explain that you’re only worried and trying to help, and make them see the reason why protecting a bully will do more damage in the long run. If your child isn’t speaking up, try having conversations with the teacher.

Here are examples of polite conversations:

  • “Does my child have any friends? Who does he/she interact with?”
  • “How often does he/she go for lunch breaks?”
  •  “Has he/she skipped school recently? If so, how frequently?”
  • “Do you genuinely think my child may be having difficulties in school?”

Tips for Handling Bullying as an Individual:

1. Stand up for yourself: Bullies project a picture of themselves onto other people, and I believe they suffer from insecurity. The best thing to do is to stand up for yourself. Practice looking them in the eye and saying you’ve had enough of their unacceptable behavior. Let them know you won’t tolerate it anymore, and if it persists, you will report it to the school authorities or even take legal action. Standing up for yourself takes a lot of confidence and bravery, but it’s the most effective way to handle bullying. You’d be surprised that bullies carefully pick out their victims.

2. Open up: The thing about putting an end to bullying is you have to be actively involved in not being a victim. Try opening up and talking to someone you trust: a parent, a teacher, or a counselor. Not only does it ease the burden of enduring it in silence, but it’s also a valid way of bringing an end to bullying. They can offer support, and guidance, and effectively address the issue.

3. Practice positivity: Bullies thrive on negativity. You can turn this around by practicing positive affirmations and reminding yourself that you’re not in any way what they say you are. By filling your head with positivity, you can gradually build back your self-esteem and make each day better.

4. Don’t beat yourself up: For a long time, I blamed myself for being bullied. I would say things like “If only I looked different, they wouldn’t pick on me.” Please know that you’re the victim and it’s in no way your fault; you’re not the problem, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. Only your bullies should feel like the problem because they’re the ones being unreasonably mean. When you find yourself in doubt or practicing self-blame, shake it off!

5. See a therapist: The effects of bullying don’t fade away easily; they remain constant even after years, and this may end up affecting many choices we make. This is why it’s important to talk to a therapist or make conscious efforts to overcome the trauma. Remind yourself of your strength, that you’re no longer that person, that you’re different, unique, and strong. It’s important to get help so you don’t end up seeing yourself the way the bullies did.

6. Don’t get physical: It might be tempting to resort to physical actions, like delivering a few slaps, but honestly, violence isn’t the answer. I dislike arguments and physical violence even more. Instead, I focus on staying calm and avoiding physical situations as much as possible. Physical violence may bring temporary satisfaction but can lead to more trouble in the end. Indirectly, you may even reduce the bully’s punishment because they can use your reaction as their defense.

Other ways:

– Practice confidence.

– Find friends or activities that make you feel safe.

– Avoid showing vulnerability.

How parents can help :

– Help build your child’s confidence by constantly reassuring them that there’s nothing wrong with them and that you will always love them.

– Take the matter seriously and report it to the appropriate authorities.

– Teach your child the right way to react in triggering instances.

– Offer them emotional and mental support to help them cope with the situation.


Mj is a writer with over three years of experience. During this time, she has written on a wide range of topics, including self-help, health and lifestyle tips, social justice, gender equality, and human rights. Her writings have been featured on various online platforms. She believes that writing is an art that speaks volumes and her works express her views and beliefs artistically. she’s eager to use her skills to amplify the voices of youths in Nigeria, their struggles win, their highs and lows and what the entirety of being a Nigerian youth encompasses.