The Complex Relationship Between Bullying and Young People’s Mental Health

bullying and mental health

To mark Anti-Bullying Week 2023, we will explore the connections between bullying and mental health, the impact it has on young individuals, and strategies for prevention and support.

Bullying is a pervasive issue that affects countless individuals, especially young people. It can lead to severe psychological and emotional consequences, making it imperative to address the topic from a mental health perspective. In this blog post, we will delve into the evidence-based insights gathered from reputable sources such as East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), as well as the National Bullying Helpline. 


The Prevalence of Bullying and its Impact

Bullying is not an isolated incident; it is an enduring problem that affects both the victim and the perpetrator. The ELFT and MFT resources provide alarming statistics that highlight the prevalence and consequences of bullying.



According to ELFT, bullying affects approximately 1 in 5 young people. It can take various forms, including physical, verbal, social, or cyberbullying, making it difficult for victims to escape.


Mental Health Consequences

Both sources underline that bullying is significantly linked to mental health issues. Victims of bullying are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and even suicidal thoughts. These effects can persist into adulthood if left unaddressed.


The Role of Cyberbullying

In today’s digital age, the emergence of cyberbullying has exacerbated the issue. The National Bullying Helpline highlights the role of technology in bullying.


Cyberbullying has become a serious concern. The anonymity and wide reach of the internet make it a powerful tool for bullies. Victims of cyberbullying often suffer from increased social isolation, anxiety, and depression.


Prevention and Support

Preventing and addressing bullying is crucial for the mental health and well-being of young individuals. ELFT, MFT, and the National Bullying Helpline provide insights into strategies for prevention and support:


  • Education and Awareness: ELFT and MFT recommend educational initiatives to increase awareness of bullying and its consequences. These initiatives should target not only students but also parents and educators. This can help create a culture of empathy and support.


  • Effective Reporting Systems: Both sources emphasise the importance of having effective reporting systems in schools and communities. These systems should ensure confidentiality and timely intervention.


  • Mental Health Services: Accessible mental health services are vital for victims of bullying. MFT’s resources suggest that schools and healthcare institutions should work together to provide mental health support to those affected by bullying.


  • Online Safety Measures: The National Bullying Helpline encourages the use of online safety measures to protect young people from cyberbullying. This includes educating children on how to stay safe online, promoting responsible social media use, and ensuring open communication with parents and caregivers.


Bullying and mental health are interconnected in profound ways. The evidence-based information provided by ELFT, MFT, and the National Bullying Helpline demonstrates the urgent need to address this issue comprehensively. By implementing preventive measures, creating safe environments, and offering support to those affected by bullying, we can strive to minimise its devastating impact on the mental health of young individuals. 


It is essential to work together as a community to create a world where every young person can grow up without the fear of bullying and its harmful consequences.


Anti-Bullying Week 2023 will take place from Monday 13th – Friday 17th November in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and it’s coordinated by the Anti-Bullying Alliance and by respectme, Scotland’s anti-bullying agency. The theme is Make A Noise About Bullying.

This Anti-Bullying Week let’s come together to have discussions about what bullying means to us, how banter can turn into something more hurtful, and what we can do to stop bullying. Together, we can make a difference and take a stand against bullying.

Free resources for primary and secondary schools

The Anti-Bullying Alliance have designed free resources to help schools to celebrate and take part in Anti-Bullying Week 2023.You can download them here.


Young Minds offer advice and support for young people dealing with bullying.

School mental health qualifications to support children and young people's mental health