We’ve known for years the impact of bullying on mental health, especially in children and young adults.
During consults, patients often spend time talking about medical and social issues currently in the media, taking valuable time away from dealing with what they have really come in to discuss. One of our solutions is to direct them to news articles on our website that outline current issues and offer strategies to manage the problem and links to relevant, reputable websites. These are usually written weekly by a doctor in our practice. We all know that patients often don’t recall some of what is said in a consultation and these articles allow them to revisit the issue at their leisure and share the information with others, without detracting from consultation time.
As we start the new school year parents are concerned about how their children will cope with potential bullying incidents and the impact of bullying on mental health, and our latest article addresses this.
The Children’s Commissioner has released the data of a survey of 1800 Western Australian children finding one in five high school students and one in ten primary school students were afraid of being bullied or being hurt in some way. Relationships with peers and friends and teachers were key issues as were relationships with parents and health issues. Commissioner Pettit said this did not mean those students were in chronic fear, rather that they did not feel safe all the time.
YouthbeyondBlue has launched some resources to guide young people when supporting their friends and has a wide choice of advice about how to open conversations with young people if you are concerned about their behaviour and well being or if you are worried they may be being bullied.
Melbourne App developers and Youthbeyondblue have created The Check-in App for anyone who wants to check in with a friend but is concerned about saying the wrong thing or making the situation worse. The app suggests ways to think about where you might check in, what you might say and how you might support your friend. There is also a section showing you things to consider if your friend denies there is a problem. The app also gives advice on the next steps after you have had your conversation and where to get support and additional links or tips.
The website also suggests ways to start a conversation when someone you know is not acting the way they usually do (such as stressing out or withdrawing), there is a written guide and video examples. It is hard to know what to say to someone you care about who needs some help or support. The four key things that Youthbeyondblue suggests are:
- Look out for signs such as not hanging out with usual friends as much, always being down or tired, being more snappy or looking a mess
- Listen to your friend’s experiences, don’t rush in with advice. they may not want to talk about it, let them know you are worried and that you are happy to listen when they want to talk or suggest someone else.
- Talk about what is going on, simply saying that you have noticed they are not themselves and showing that you are prepared to listen can be very supportive to a friend
- Seek help together by encouraging your friend to get some support. It can be family or a local GP or Health Professional. You may even offer to attend the first appointment
If you think your child’s worry is affecting their life, there are many evidence based programs and services effective in reducing anxiety and worry, like Centre for Emotional Health or Brave Online.
The Triple P Parenting programme offers a range of ways to get your positive parenting, either choosing single visit consultations to public seminars, group or private sessions and an online course offering strategies and ideas at triplep-parenting.net.au
Help for young people is also available at Kidshelpline
If urgent advice is needed, call the beyondblue support service on 1300 224636 or visit beyondblue.org.au
Dr Lisa Surman, CBD West Medical Centre, Perth, WA
Member of Best Practice Software’s Clinical Leadership Advisory Committee