Improving Mental Health by Reducing Bullying
Fifteen to 20 percent of Canadian children have serious mental health problems linked to notable distress and impairment. Mental health problems in youth have a detrimental effect on their quality of life and performance in school, and create a burden for the healthcare system. In adults, mental health problems are the leading cause of disability.
Most adult mental health problems begin in childhood. For this reason, reducing the occurrence of illness in childhood can be expected to have a positive impact on adult mental health. To that end, Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt, Canada Research Chair in School-Based Mental Health and Violence Prevention, is exploring an important and often neglected root cause of mental health problems: bullying.
Bullying is a systematic abuse of power that affects 35 percent of Canadian youth. Among them, 10 percent report being bullied daily. And bullying is not limited to school: forty percent of Canadian employees report being bullied at work, and 10 percent report experiencing frequent harassment by co-workers.
Although bullying is often considered a normal part of childhood, recent research on the long-term effects of bullying discredits this myth, and suggests the negative impact of bullying is far-reaching and enduring.
Vaillancourt and her research team have put together a research program designed to examine the long-term effects of bullying. Their ultimate goal is to identify the best areas for intervention and prevention.