Bullying breaks down character

By Steph McNicol

THE impacts of bullying can result in damage to resilience, social isolation and a change in character, according to headspace clinical services manager Dayna Minovski.

Headspace is a mental health support service for youth aged 12 to 25.

In her role at headspace Craigieburn, Ms Minovski interacts with youth which means she hears many different scenarios of bullying and how it impacts the mental health of her patients.

Ms Minovski said bullying was not confined to just one age group.

“For most people I speak to that gets bullied in high school, they say their bullying starts in primary school. There’s not one particular age group, we see it across the whole age range,” she said.

The clinical services manager said bullying took many forms in different environments, however the impacts were similar.

“For younger kids it tends to be more online bullying, and the concern there is that young people aged 13 or 14 haven’t developed the skills to navigate through it,” she said.

“We then have parents that try to manage the problem by taking away their child’s devices, but it’s not an easy solution because it’s forced social exclusion.

“They are trying to find their way through such a critical time in their life and being excluded. It can really impact their resilience.”

Ms Minovski said as students grew older the bullying would turn into gossip and violation of trust.

“With young people closer to 18, the bullying becomes more face-to-face and confrontation at school or parties or maybe in pubic at shopping centres,” she said.

“It’s not so much physical, young people just make threats and it results in the victims avoiding going to certain places.”

The mental health worker said the impact on mental wellbeing was severe.

“It has quite an impact on their mental health which means we can see things like social withdrawal, avoiding school, staying home, and generally they just don’t know how to manage situations,” Ms Minovski said.

“They worry about being put on the spot and so sometimes I help them rehearse situations and think realistically about it so they’re not jumping to worst case scenarios.

“Parents might notice their child acting differently, staying in their room all the time and even aggression might start to show. That’s their way of coping with what they’re feeling if they aren’t talking about it.

“They start to think that they’re not a good person or they feel rejected. The aggression they display is just a disguise for those feelings of not being good enough.”

People aged 12 to 25 who are in need of mental health support can call headspace Craigieburn, on 8338 0919, or visit their website for online support.