It’s easier to tear something down than build it up, and the same reasoning applies to human behavior and mental health. Bullying is a widespread issue that affects people of every age, gender, nationality, race, and income status; no one is immune. It can occur in any setting, although the most common places happen to be schools, workplaces, and even at home.

The driving forces behind each bully are unique, but many bullies share some common characteristics. No matter the reason, bullying is unacceptable, regardless of who it is or where it occurs.

Causes of bullying

There’s a lot of theories as to what makes a bully behave the way they do, but it’s usually one or more of the following reasons:

-They feel powerless

-They suffer from insecurity

-They feel alone

-They need to control others

-They enjoy the attention they get from bullying

In some cases, bullying a classmate may make a kid more popular. An employer who bullies a worker might stop other employees from questioning management choices. These outcomes show bullies that this conduct pays off.

Bullying can be a learned behavior. Many children live in households where the adults intimidate and bully during disagreements or to get their way. Living in this environment, kids won’t learn other, more effective ways to manage conflict or get their needs met.

In many workplaces, supervisors may believe their status entitles them to bully other employees.

Many bullies lack empathy, are emotionally unstable, dysregulated,or have narcissistic traits- in many cases, a combination of all of these. Intimidating and controlling others helps them to feel better about themselves.

The impact of bullying on mental health

Bullying is not only harmful to victims, but bystanders and bullies themselves can also have detrimental effects on their physical and mental health.

Victims of bullying are at risk of:

-Developing mental health problems like anxiety and depression

-Experiencing eating and sleeping changes

-Feeling alone and isolated

-Having suicidal thoughts

-Withdrawing from activities they once enjoyed

-Missing days of school

-Dropping out of school

In some cases, kids and adults who were bullied have resorted to violence, including mass shootings, in acts of revenge. That’s why it’s crucial for victims of bullying to seek. A licensed mental health professional can help them work through the complex emotions that result from being bullied.

Bystanders of bullying can also suffer from mental health symptoms. People who witness bullying are at higher risk of developing mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. They may also feel guilty or ashamed for not intervening but are often afraid to say something for fear of becoming a target. Observing bullying in the workplace can lower morale, increase the risk of people calling in sick, and increase turnover rates.

Bullies themselves also suffer from their actions. They have an increased risk of substance use disorders and other mental health disorders. If their bullying is severe enough to have legal consequences, they tend to cycle in and out of the criminal justice system.

What to do if you’re the bully

In many cases with bullies, a traumatic childhood, domestic violence, physical abuse, or other forms of abuse may be the root cause of their issues. Many times when people who have engaged in bullying speak to a mental health provider, they receive insight into their behavior and address where they learned to bully and the impact of their actions on others.

If you have experienced emotional trauma from bullying, or if you find yourself exhibiting bullying behaviors, contact Serene Health. We offer several types of behavioral health and mental health services, and we can help you work through your issues. We have appointments available seven days a week from our Telehealth platform. Call us at 844-737-3638 or visit us at to book an appointment.