Study Examines Link Between Bullying, Adult Mental Health

Though a great deal of effort has been poured into the prevention and addressing of bullying in childhood, an unfortunate number of children experience bullying while growing up. Sometimes resulting in emotional difficulties or an embarrassing experience, and sometimes causing severe physical issues, bullying can take on many forms, but a study recently performed in Turku, Finland defines bullying as “an aggressive act embodying an imbalance of power in which the victims cannot defend themselves accompanied by an element of repetition.” The study, which worked with over five thousand Finnish children, sought to take a closer look at the potential link between bullying during childhood and the manifestation of mental health concerns later on in life.

The research found that participating children who were victims of bullying –even those who themselves participated in bullying others– were more likely to develop perceivable mental health issues between the ages of thirteen and twenty four, and were also more likely to be prescribed with anti-depression or anti-psychotic medications or hospitalization. Interestingly, the data for girls showed a closer relationship between bullying and the use of psychiatric medications and professional care than did the data for boys.

While the results may not be shocking to those who have worked with the victims of bullying or who have experienced the problem first-hand, the study provides ample support to worldwide efforts to curtail the rates of bullying in and out of schools. Helping to secure greater awareness about the problem as well as increased funding and academic work for anti-bullying initiatives, the study has decidedly added its weight to the global call for a greater attention to making bullying a thing of the past.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Samuel

    Samuel

    September 30th, 2009 at 10:22 AM

    I have known kids that have grown up to be lacking of confidence only because they were bullied as kids… this issue needs to be taken seriously by schools all over.

  • Peter

    Peter

    October 1st, 2009 at 4:48 AM

    Being bullied is not a small thing for a kid,and can definitely have a part to play in shaping his/her perception towards people in general,and therefore his/her personality. Due to being bullied,the individual will carry negative thoughts in the mind and will eventually grow up to be an adult ridden with mental health problems.

  • James

    James

    October 1st, 2009 at 5:14 AM

    My brother is an introvert but capable of flying into an uncontrollable rage at times. He is seeking help for this and his therapist told him it comes from years of being repressed while being bullied at school.

  • Sally

    Sally

    October 5th, 2009 at 3:38 AM

    Are all wife bashers guys who have been abused or abused in school? I would like to know. I need help with my spouse.

  • Dianne

    Dianne

    October 5th, 2009 at 3:52 AM

    I am a mother with a son who is a bully. We are the kind of people noone wants to know. I dont know what we have done wrong as neither my husband nor I are unstable or violent. Our son is seeing a counsellor and we are waiting for the day change will happen.

  • Hareld

    Hareld

    December 14th, 2009 at 9:24 PM

    bullying is sometimes not good for kids, for the reason that they are still ignorant on the things that needs to be explain thoroughly.

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