A new Finnish study was released this Thursday indicating that adults who are victims of workplace bullying are more likely to be prescribed antidepressants. The study was released by BMJ. What was particularly striking was that the witnesses of workplace bullying were also adversely affected, ABC news highlighted that the study indicated that
Even witnessing bullying can have health effects, according to the study. Men and women who observed workplace bullying were one and a half to two times as likely to need similar medications, reflecting true, medically confirmed mental problems.
When discussing bullying among young people I stress the role of the bystanders to become upstanders, intervening on the behalf of the victim in a myriad of ways: expressing sympathy towards the victim, standing up to the bully, or seeking adult help. Yet, as we shift our focus to bullying beyond childhood and adolescents, I wonder where are the bystanders?
I hope everyone reading in the United States had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Holiday last week! When I thought about what to write after taking the holiday week off, I contemplated the numerous discussions I had both in and out of the consulting room regarding people’s varied feelings about being with family during the holidays.
Families bring up powerful feelings and interpersonal dynamics. It’s inevitable that old family dynamics are stirred up around the dinner table and that’s what makes the holidays so difficult, our past is present…AGAIN. Sometimes the bullies of our childhood were not kids on the playground but our siblings, parents, and extended family members.
Last week I highlighted that bullying can continue well into adulthood. Whether in the bathroom of a local middle school or in the board room, bullying continues to permeate our social lives, making people feel like victims, helpless bystanders and powerful oppressors.
As a society, we all agree this is morally wrong, yet one can find instances of bullying every day.
Recently, Forbes shared author Christopher Boehm, PhD’s thoughts on bullying as an evolutionary phenomenon gone askew. Dr. Boehm states that bullying behavior is found many species and is adaptive, “because you get better food or mating opportunities… In primates, studies have shown that the top bullies have more offspring and therefore their genes proliferate.”
Our moral backbone develops in spite of the existence of this primal drive.
Unfortunately for many young people, managing bullying is a daily occurrence - learning how to avoid it, stand up to it, or at worst tolerate it until they can escape. I remember a particularly difficult time in middle school when it felt as if I had to be a “mean girl” or suffer at the hands of the alpha pack. Standing on the sidelines was just as painful as being picked on.
Like Jenna in 13 Going on 30, I would fantasize of the day as an adult when none of it mattered. I’d be an adult living in the big city, successful, happy…as Jenna would say “30, flirty, and thriving.”
I’m fortunate enough to feel 30ish, flirty and thriving! Although some things don’t change despite our age – bullying still exists in the adult world. The Workplace Bullying Institute reports that in 2010 about 35 percent of employees in the U.S. had been or are currently being bullied.