From Bullying to Mental Health: Navigating the Challenges of Adolescence
Bullying is not just a physical act of violence, but it can also have serious mental health consequences. Teenagers go through a lot of changes and experiences that can affect our emotional and mental well-being. Bullying can add to these challenges and have a detrimental effect on their mental health.
The Impact of Bullying on Mental Health
Fact: One in five American children and young adults up to age 25 struggle with a mental illness or learning disorder. 2/3 or 10 million youths are undiagnosed or untreated.
Fact: Mental health conditions can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
Fact: Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14.
Fact: Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
Fact: Depression is a common mental health condition. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 13% of U.S. teenagers aged 12 to 17 have experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
These facts are sobering. But here is another very important fact: Mental health conditions are treatable.
Bullying can cause a range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and even suicide. Victims of bullying can feel isolated, helpless, and hopeless, which can lead to feelings of sadness, anger, and frustration. Bullying can also affect youths academic and social lives, making it difficult to concentrate in school or build healthy relationships with peers.
Steps to Protect Your Mental Health
Mental health is just as important as physical health. While we may be familiar with the importance of maintaining physical health, we often overlook the importance of taking care of our mental well-being. Mental health is not only about avoiding mental illness, but also about improving and maintaining overall mental wellness. Here are some simple steps we can take to improve and maintain our mental health:
Talk to someone: It’s essential to talk to someone you trust, such as a parent, teacher, or counselor, about what you’re going through. They can provide you with support and resources to help you cope.
Stay connected: Social support is essential for good mental health. Make sure to connect with loved ones and friends regularly, even if it's just through phone or video calls.
Practice self-care: Taking time to care for yourself is crucial for good mental health. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or going for a walk.
Exercise regularly: Exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health. It can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve overall mood and well-being.
Eat a balanced diet: A healthy diet can also have a positive impact on mental health. Aim to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for good mental health. Make sure to get enough sleep each night, aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Seek help if needed: If you’re struggling with mental health issues, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can provide you with the tools and resources you need to improve your mental health.
By incorporating these simple steps into our daily routines, we can improve and maintain our mental health. Remember, taking care of our mental health is just as important as taking care of our physical health. Let's prioritize our mental well-being and lead happy, healthy lives.
Jeannie Mai Jenkins, co-host of The Real and E! Entertainment Channel, moderated this year’s Culture Shock event, welcoming fellow actors Lyric Ross (actress; This Is Us), Leo Sheng (actor and activist; The L Word), Diego Tinoco (actor; On My Block), and Casey Cott (actor; Riverdale) to share their personal stories and experiences with a live student audience tuning in from across the country, and the world.
The panelists addressed the issues of culture, race, identity, sexuality, physical bullying, verbal bullying and more as they opened up about where they came from, the adversities they each faced, how they handled them, and shared advice not just on how to change your own personal journey, but how to change the culture.
All of our panelists agreed on these Key Takeaways:
When You Make A Mistake - Whether it's a bad joke,a hurtful comment or wrong someone in another way, own the mistake and apologize. Offer a genuine apology that acknowledges the impact and harm you caused. Saying "sorry" takes courage, but it could make a huge difference to the hurt party. Take Diego Tinoco’s advice and don’t be afraid to show that you are growing and willing to learn.
It Is Never Your Fault - It is not your fault how you were born. The person who mistreats you for something that is out of your control is at fault. Guard your mental health by choosing kindness in life. Like Lyric Ross, accept and spread only love, respect, support, civility and friendship. And remember, you are worthy.
Communicate - Change is always uncomfortable. Find a way to have the difficult conversations that allow people with differences to achieve respect, maybe even common ground. Like Jeannie Mai Jenkins you may find that seeking to communicate opens up your world to learning and listening.
Find Your Tribe - Surround yourself with people who see you for who you are, and seek to understand you. Like Casey Cott, celebrate your authentic self and lean on those who accept you. When you find an ally, you fit in everywhere.
Share Your Story - Each person has a distinct human experience, and no single experience can represent everyone. Sharing your individual experience can be a powerful way to influence people's attitudes and perspectives. With greater representation in society than ever before, telling your story can serve as a valuable tool for driving positive change and changing the culture. Like Leo Sheng discovered, recognizing and acknowledging each other's uniqueness and individuality is essential for building a more inclusive society.
If you didn't have an opportunity to join the livestream of STOMP Out Bullying's 2023 Culture Shock, you can catch the replay of this powerful conversation and call to Change The Culture and End The Hate. We are receiving so many calls and emails from schools to rewatch this powerful online session. Thank you to all the schools who have joined us so far.