Bullying and your mental health

Bullying can have a big impact on your mental health.  Find out more about what you might be feeling, how you can get support, and ways to help yourself feel better.

shutterstock_35037541.jpg

How bullying can affect your mental health

Bullying can have a massive impact on your mental health, both now and in the future. In fact, recent research has shown that if you’re bullied as a child or teenager, you might be twice as likely to use mental health services as an adult. It doesn't matter if you're being bullied at school, at home or online, bullying can mess with your head. But you're not alone, and you deserve support. 

How you might be feeling

Getting support

Taking care of yourself

Everyone is different, and there are different ways that bullying can affect you.

 

You might be feeling…

 

  • Anxious and worried all the time
  • Sad, low and tearful
  • That you’re not worth anything, or that nobody likes you
  • Sick more often, or have stomach pains
  • Angry and stressed
  • Helpless and hopeless, like things will never get better
  • Like hurting yourself, or someone else. If you’re having thoughts like this, it’s important to get help straightaway 

 

You might also…

 

  • Find it hard to concentrate at school
  • Not want to be around your friends and family as much as you used to
  • Not enjoy things you used to enjoy
  • Have trouble eating, or eat too much for you
  • Throw up after eating
  • Have trouble sleeping, or sleep too much
  • Drink a lot of alcohol, or use drugs
  • Have flashbacks and nightmares

If you need urgent help

If you feel so bad that you want to end your own life, it’s important to get help straightaway. If there’s nobody nearby to talk to, you can call 999 and ask for an ambulance, or go to the nearest A&E.

Getting support for your mental health

Nobody deserves to be bullied. You may be feeling lonely, ashamed and frightened, but you’re not alone, and there’s no shame in being bullied. 

It’s important to get support if you’re being bullied. There are lots of people who can help you.

Your doctor

You can make an appointment with your GP who can talk through how you’re feeling with you and explore ways in which they can help. If you’re struggling with self-harm, suicidal thoughts, eating problems, depression or anxiety, they might want you to refer you to someone who specialises in mental health.

It might be tough to find the words to explain how you’re feeling. Check out the DocReady website, which can help you make a checklist of what you want to talk about, and gives some advice on preparing for your appointment.

Will a doctor have to tell my parents or guardians about what I’ve shared with them?

No, what you talk about with the doctor will be between you and the doctor. They may encourage you to speak to an adult you trust, and wouldn’t share anything without your consent. If you’re under 16 and the doctor is very worried that you may seriously harm yourself or someone else, then they may need to tell someone.

If you're feeling anxious about it, then do ask the doctor to explain more about what kind of things they might need to share with someone else.

Your parents or another adult you trust

This might be a teacher, a friend's parent, another relative, religious leader (like a priest or an imam), or someone else that you feel safe with and can turn to.

Online and on the phone

Getting support offline might be the best way to get help if you're struggling to cope. But if you're not ready to talk to someone face to face, there are lots of other places you can turn to.

  • Our helpline (0808 800 2222) can talk you through what’s happening to you and help you explore what to do next.
  • Online support can be helpful when we want to be totally anonymous or don’t like using the phone. The Mix is a charity for anyone under 25. They have a busy forum and live chat where you can share your experiences anonymously. Childline also have online, 1-1 counselling that you can access 24 hours a day. 
  • Support from other people who've experienced bullying Sometimes you might want to talk to someone who's been there. Visit our forums to talk to other people who've been bullied.

It can be tough to talk about our feelings. Read our 5 tips for talking about your mental health for how to get started.

Taking care of yourself

If you're struggling, it can be hard to take care of yourself. You might not feel like it,but looking after yourself can help you to feel stronger and more able to cope.

Exercise isn't just good for your body, it's good for your brain, too. If you're feeling low, it might be hard to motivate yourself to exercise. You can start gently by taking a quick stroll, or even by doing some YouTube workouts in your room. The NHS has lots of ideas for teens here.

Taking time to relax can help you feel calmer and more able to cope. If you're not sure where to start, why not try these relaxation exercises from Mind? Some people also find mindfulness a great way to combat stress. Learn more about mindfulness.

Get creative Drawing, painting, photography, makeup and more can get you out of your head and give you a sense of achievement.

How do you take care of your mind? Talk to us on Twitter @BullyingUK

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

Did you find our advice helpful? Help us help more people by filling in our survey