THOUSANDS of people suffering mental health problems have said bullying was a factor in their struggle to cope.
Anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label has published a major report which explored 12.9 million online conversations surrounding mental health.
The study, the largest of its kind, was carried out in partnership with social intelligence company Brandwatch.
The conversations were held over a five year period and were taken from various sites including Twitter, Instagram, blogs, forums and online news sources.
The report found a strong link between bullying and self-harm while more than 400,000 conversations about eating disorders also referred to harassment.
More than 225,000 conversations about anxiety and depression also referred to the issue.
The report found men were more likely than women to use derogatory language when discussing mental health.
Ditch the Label chief executive Liam Hackett said: “The link between bullying and mental health is indisputable.
“Young people tell us all the time that living with the stigma of mental health is often harder than living with the symptoms.
“This research clearly shows that the UK has a stoic culture with negative attitudes towards emotional openness and crying.
“In order to rectify the epidemic of mental illness we must challenge the harmful cultural norms and encourage emotional openness and challenge stigma at all levels.
“One young person previously told us that at the age of 14 he is navigating through depression, anxiety and panic attacks whilst trying to balance the stress of being bullied and exams.
“No young person should ever have to go through that experience.”
Brandwatch research manager Edward Crook said: “There’s a lot of existing research on mental health but no one has ever conducted a digital study at this scale.
“This gives an unprecedented view of how we relate to mental health and how we experience symptoms.
“This is research with purpose.
“Our findings are geared toward challenging the stigma surrounding mental health, improving awareness and tackling barriers to care.”
Previous research from Ditch the Label has also drawn links between bullying and mental health issues.
Its annual bullying survey found that of those who have been bullied online, two in five have gone on to develop social anxiety.
Two in five went on to develop depression while one in four have had suicidal thoughts.
Source: The Argus