By LaKenya McClough, MPH
Mental health rarely receives the same kind of attention as does, say, heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes, or stroke. Surprisingly, these common medical conditions can be directly related to how a person experiences stress. Research shows that negative workplace environments including where a person feels bullied, or the victim of unfair treatment, can be a major contributor to that person’s individual stress and mental health.
Dr. Gary Namie, President of the Workplace Bullying Institute, workplace bullying expert, defines bullying as “repeated mistreatment: sabotage by others that prevent work from getting done, verbal abuse, threatening conduct, intimidation and humiliation.”
Workplace bullying may be more common than we thought. “About 35 percent of people reporting having experienced it before, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. ” in the same survey, bosses were the most common bullies, followed by coworkers, then customers, then someone with a higher ranking than a direct boss, CareerBuilder reported.
A new study from Finnish researchers suggests that, ” victims of workplace bullying are more likely to receive prescriptions for drugs for insomnia, depression and anxiety.” In the Finnish study, men who are bullied at work are about twice as likely to receive prescriptions for these kinds of conditions than men not reporting being bullied. Women who report experiences of workplace bullying were 50 percent more likely to receive prescriptions to help treat these mental health conditions.
Unfavorable living conditions, genetics, changes in income, family life, and other life events can impact an individual’s mental health. A person can experience changes such as these singularly or all at once. These changes accompanied with workplace bullying or other negative work conditions can be volatile in both mental and physical health.
Some things are beyond our control. However, we can be proactive by taking care of ourselves, and being aware of personal and workplace stressors. Don’t wait and tolerate poor or negative treatment. There is no excuse for workplace bullying. If you or someone you know is being bullied at work, there is something you can do. Check with your human resources office and identify the resources available. Options such as counseling, training, and other HR protocols within the organization can often put a stop to workplace bullying. Sometimes it’s just about putting the person on notice that they’ve violated you.
Talking to your doctor or mental health clinician is always best when trying to decide whether medication or other alternatives are right for you. Do what you can to take care of yourself. At the end of the day, your personal and mental health are invaluable. There’s only one you and your pay-check doesn’t have to be the trade for your personal and mental well-being.
To learn more about what you can do to help stop workplace bullying, read this article from Psychology Today.
To read more about the study on workplace bullying, click here.