Mental Health

What Were You Bullied For?

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Previously, we shared a post of Whisper “What Were You Bullied For” on our facebook page.

To our surprise, we received quite a lot of comments from friends who shared their experiences of being bullied. They have been negatively commented because of their body size, appearance, socioeconomic status and etc.

Some of the comments in our page

From the comments, we know that bullying is never a small case and it is quite a common phenomenon among us especially during our school days. But, bullying doesn’t happen only in school, instead it happens among all walks of lives, all ages, all genders, all races, and all cultures.

If you just google or search “childhood bullying” in scholarly websites, it is easy to find many research investigating the impact of bullying on the psychological well-being of individuals and many of them showed that childhood bullying is linked to psychological issues / distress in their future lives.

The harmful effects are beyond psychological distress

Childhood bullying experience including those that bullied others is associated with risk of poor health, wealth, and social relationship

It is vital then to have the awareness that bullying is a severe phenomenon worthy of attention from all sides of society. For example, in a school setting, parents and teachers need to work together and pay extra attention if someone bullies others or gets bullied. (Personal experience: I had previous experiences of interviewing depressed children due to school bullying. You can never imagine how bad the impact it is to their psyche). As far as I know, bullying is not only a surface level problem, as it doesn’t give us the full picture of the affected individuals. It is a signal, it is an alarm for us to look into what is behind the acts of bullying.

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Hence, extra attention needs to be put beyond the acts of bullying such as what is the motivation of bullying others. It’s because the real victims of bullying is not only the victims who get bullied (generally, this is the misconception), but also the one who bullied others. There must be something that leads them to have certain behavioural issues or problems that put others at disadvantaged positions, including the following possible reasons:

– Seeking approval / social acceptance from other

– Desire to increase popularity

– Have a sense of entitlement and superiority over others

Lack compassion, impulse control and social skills

It is very important to note that bullying involves multiple roles: the bully, the victim and also bystanders (classmates / friends who didn’t stop the bullying incident). Each role may get affected psychologically in various extents from the same bullying case.  Even though bullying in and of itself may not guarantee the development of psychological distress in the near future or adulthood, evidences showed that the experiences put the affected individuals at a higher risk of having psychological distresses.

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Early intervention is important in tackling these cases in a school setting and hence school counsellors play very important roles in addressing possible psychological issues faced by students in school especially when they are going through different phases of their childhood or teenage years. In every phase of life, students may experience different kinds of stress, anxiety and self-esteem issues, ranging from academic stress to relationship issues. More efforts and prevention need to be done to reduce bullying.

Yet, what about bullying in adulthood? What are your experience and how do you handle it?


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Gary Yap
Hailing from Sandakan, Sabah (The Land Below the Wind), Gary Yap has developed a keen interest in psychology and mental health issues ever since he was 15 years old. After receiving a Bachelor’s Degree of Psychology in HELP University, he volunteered at the Psychiatric Department of Duchess of Kent Hospital and worked as a para-counsellor at a private psychiatric clinic. He later completed his Master’s in Clinical Psychology at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. During his training in becoming a clinical psychologist, Gary was professionally trained at the Health Psychology Clinic, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia; the Psychiatry Department, in Hospital Kajang; and the Psychiatry Department in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre. Gary is currently a clinical psychologist associate at SOLS Health and also the director of MY Psychology (Malaysia’s Leading Online Psychology Educational Platform) where he and his team utilized the strength of social media to increase psychological literacy and awareness about mental health issues in the public community. With the motto of “Learn . Share . Apply”, he is striving to build a society where psychology is for everyone.

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