Mental Health Stigma at School: Is Your Child Being Bullied?
Mental health stigma at school from peers can lead to bullying. Bullying can be an extremely difficult and traumatizing problem for children, especially those with mental health issues. Short term, when a child is being bullied and has a mental health problem, additional problems may add to their original diagnosis. These could be anything from social anxiety problems to depression. Further, during a child's critical formative years, mental health stigma at school (as bullying) affects the child for years to come. Here are some things you can do when your child faces mental health stigma at school.
What Can a Parent Do About Mental Health Stigma At School?
It can often be just as devastating to a parent to watch their child go through bullying over mental health stigma at school as it is to experience it as a child. Everyone wants their child to be happy and have friends and succeed in their goals and dreams. Bullying caused by mental health stigma can seem very unfair and cruel. There are different types of bullies but mostly they do the same thing: destroy self-esteem and cause self-stigma and pain.
However, there can be many things a parent can do. The most important thing I have learned in dealing with bullies in my own life is that they will look for any type of difference in a classmate and call attention to it often because the bully doesn't want any attention called to themselves. Your child needs to understand this and many other dynamics of mental health stigma, and so communication with your child is extremely important.
One thing they must learn is to deal with of course is self-stigma. Educate yourself on the subject of bullying and then sit down and talk openly with your child. They need to understand it is okay to tell someone about bullying due to mental health stigma at school. You can also reduce mental health stigma and bullying by reporting it to their school yourself.
I know parents who feel that by trying to keep their child's clothing and appearance current they will reduce bullying. This may seem strange and unfair, but from experience and in talking with parents, I have learned that anything you can do to make your child stand out less and feel better about themselves can help.
Building Confidence Helps Get Past Mental Health Stigma at School
Something a child often needs to be reminded of is that they have a job that they may not be aware of. Their job isn't to fit in or to please others. Their job is to attend school, though it may be extremely difficult, and learn how to make their own way in the world when they become adults. I feel the best way to help a child to understand this is to pay attention to your child's needs in body, mind, and spirit, and of course, through communication. When a child has mental health problems and is being bullied at school, these important goals can be forgotten.
I feel that the best help I could have gotten as a child when I was being bullied would have been more help with my homework, more attention from the people I really cared about (my parents), and more emphasis on my physical and spiritual development. Take the time to teach your child to learn, to get through school and focus on what will help them grow and learn at a time when so many things are difficult and confusing. Bullying in school or anywhere is cruel and unfair, and mental health issues are hard to get through, but there is always hope for a better future, especially if goals and dreams can be planned out and worked towards.
Gregersen, L. (2016, October 9). Mental Health Stigma at School: Is Your Child Being Bullied?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2016/10/mental-health-stigma-at-school-is-your-child-being-bullied