Saturday 15 May 2021

Bullying - Who Wins? Some thoughts for Mental Health Week.


Bullying - Who Wins?  Some thoughts for Mental Health Week.

I usually avoid positing around the Mental Health weeks/days as it is an area that isn’t a specialism for me, although I have had fair amount of experience within it. I briefly share this with you below…

 Personally, I have experienced three periods of diagnosed severe depression, one of which was treated with medication. This was the period when my wife was pregnant and diagnosed with a brain tumour that required an emergency operation. Through these periods I learned I was stronger than I thought, developed an enhanced awareness of when I was starting to experience such anxieties, and developed management strategies to help me cope. These have all worked for me over the years and especially in the last 9-months as I battle with my Amyloidosis and Chemotherapy.

In addition to the above my son, born in 1994, is severely Autistic and non-verbal and another close family member has been on suicide watch with Adult Mental Health Services while also being diagnosed with clinical depression and personality disorders going back to being bullied at school. You can add to this a parent and an in-law with differing types of dementia.

The point I want to pick up on in this Blog is that around bullying and the long-term harm this can do.

 There are many definitions of what a Bully is, it isn’t just the physical aspect of the school playground bully taking pocket money and threatening the smaller kids either. The definition I work with is as follows: a blustering, browbeating person especially: one who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable.

I would add to this as well that a ‘vulnerable’ person may not obviously appear so. A display of outward confidence can often disguise a severe vulnerability to the kind of behaviour described above. A vulnerability that results is long term, perhaps unmanageable harm to their mental health.

Here in the 21st Century there is an extension to the above as we now have Cyberbullying. This is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. ... Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. Recently my attention has been drawn to specific case of this involving a group of persons that might not obviously be seen as vulnerable – we can all only accept so much of this activity when it is aimed at us and the indications clearly are that those on the receiving end have been well and truly bullied. I would add that the actions being taken by those on the receiving end of this specific Cyber bullying over a prolonged period is presenting to me as proportionate to the original activity,  showing a high degree of patience and excellent leadership and protection of the team involved.

Now I fully accept Edmund Burke’s observation that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” However, there is also a need to remember that one person’s evil is often another person’s good; that one person’s freedom fighter is another’s disruptive guerrilla fighter. Add to this any existing confirmation bias that may exist and the harmful comments being made soon lack any degree of justness, appropriateness or perhaps even and true basis in fact.

It is, in my view, essential that blogs, social media comments, articles, video’s etc that target another person or persons remain factual, fair and reasonable. To do otherwise is a bullying and intimidating stance that says more about the person creating the comment than the person on the receiving end. They should also be made without hiding behind a made up or fabricated alter ego. If you are calling someone out on a genuine, demonstratively true, basis why would you need to hide your identity?

The person or persons on the receiving end are entitled to and should challenge such comments that they know to be false; where possible citing actual evidence for why they are falsehoods. This isn’t reverse bullying; this is defending yourself from an attack that is harmful to reputation and, when prolonged, the mental health of those on the receiving end. If you are going to make derogatory comments about a third party you should be prepared to be challenged to evidence them and defend your statements. If you cannot do so simply do not make them. There is an old saying that if you cannot say anything nice then say nothing at all and I believe that to be a fair assessment.

To conclude, although I could go on, given my own health challenges of the last few months I have effectively confirmed that for me if someone intentionally makes hurtful, nasty and harmful comments that they cannot back up that this says more to me about the person making the comments than the person they aim them at.  This is among the worst forms of ‘bullying’, shows a lack of self-respect, let alone a lack of respect for others, and if this is what you ae disposed to do, then I have no room in my life, or my social media feeds for you and those who jump in on your comments. Life is too short for such antics.  Nobody Wins so Be kind or Don’t.

As always comments are welcome, as is sharing of the Blog and I hope this has at least made you stop and think about that reply you might just be about to make.

#BeKindOrDont #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

For further information on #BeKindOrDont search the hashtag on Twitter, Facebook or Linked In etc.


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