Mental Health - A Target for Workplace Bullying

Nearly a third of people in the UK experience bullying at work

The cost of mental health problems due to bullying amount to over £17 billion to the UK economy each year. Those with mental health problems are among those most likely to be bullied at work. Workplace bullies, like most bullies, seek out a vulnerability in a person that they can exploit. In this instance, the symptoms of mental health problems or simply having a mental health problem, can make you a target for bullying.

Bullying in the workplace can take many forms to threaten you either personally or professionally. Personal bullying could be name-calling, unwanted communication (verbal, physical or written), aggressive behaviour, humiliation, “ganging-up” or isolation. Professional bullying, on the other hand, could be taking the credit for work you have done, or it could be preventing you from carrying out your work, for example not giving you relevant resources.

Bullying can make you lose faith in yourself and feel nervous about going into work. It is known to cause anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Especially for those who already have mental health problems, bullying is a greatly unwanted source of stress within the workplace. The question for employers is: what can be done about it?

If you wish to prevent bullying, then communication is vital:

  • Implement and advertise an anti-bullying policy, outlining expectations of employee behaviour and how employees can make a formal complaint. This shows a lack of tolerance for bullying.
  • Give employees someone who is capable of supporting them through any workplace issue and promote this service. This helps to give an understanding environment for employees.
  • Allowing employees to give anonymous feedback on subjects such as workplace bullying can identify any areas of concern. This means that employees can give their honest opinions and constructive criticism.

To find out more, read the government's advice on workplace bullying. If you have identified that mental health problems are an issue within your organisation, then please visit our mental health services page to find out how we can help you.

If you're looking to improve your line managers' awareness of managing mental health issues, we offer mental health training for managers and online mental health training for managers.

I am an undergraduate BSc Psychology student at the University of Birmingham. I am driven to banish the stigma surrounding mental illness, and to encourage people to better identify and manage their mental health.

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