News • 22 Jan 2020

The effects of name-calling on youth mental health

The effects of name-calling on youth mental health
Youth Mental Health

Bullying is incredibly prevalent amongst youths in Australia. The link between bullying and mental health issues is also on the rise. In support of No Name-Calling Week, we understand this connection and outline some tips to better manage youth mental health.

Mental health challenges among young Australians continue to grow with the highest recorded increase amongst women and Indigenous people.

A new report from Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute found that 24.2% of young people have experienced mental health symptoms, which is an increase of 5.5% from last year.

The report indicates that there are more students that have experienced bullying than those who haven’t.

Furthermore, according to a recent survey in America, 31% of people experience bullying as an adult.

So chances are you’ve been bullied or called a hurtful name at some point in your life.

Mission Australia has labelled the rise in youth mental health reports as, “a serious national challenge.”

The biggest factor contributing to psychological distress among youths is the prevalence of social media as well as rising stress relating to school and social stigmas.

Take a look back at our top tips for managing good mental health, which includes exercising, eating healthy, getting creative and more.

With these reported numbers on the rise, there’s also been a counteraction from community and support networks, including No Name-Calling Week.


What is No Name-Calling Week?

No Name-Calling Week is an initiative run by GLSEN, a leading body of teachers and academics who educate and create safe spaces for LGBTQ youth.

Since 2004, the initiative aimed to put an end to bullying, name-calling, slurs and stereotypes in schools.

The week is themed around #KindnessInAction, a hashtag created to not only recognise acts of kindness from the community but also promote and add them into everyday life.

If you’re an organisation, educator, student or individual wishing to participate in No Name-Calling Week, you can register your interest here.


Name-calling has damaging effects to mental health

Most children experience bullying at school in Australia. A 2018 report found three in five students—that’s 2.3 million youths—have been bullied.

Verbal bullying is reported to be the most common form of bullying with 50% of students having experienced name-calling or verbal abuse.

Name-calling is one of the most damaging forms of bullying as it has lasting forms of mental exploitation to a child’s confidence, personality and mental wellbeing.

Negative labels directed at a child erodes their self-esteem at an early age.

Insults can have a very serious impact on children’s psychological state as often they internalise what they’ve been called, which leads to deeper and long lasting mental health issues.


What are the effects of name-calling?

Name-calling can lead to damaging psychological effects on young people. Some lasting consequences could include:

  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Impacted mood
  • Encouraged violence
  • Self-criticism
  • Damaged overall wellbeing
  • Compromised beliefs, values and self-worth


How to cope with bullying and name-calling

Whilst No Name-Calling Week is all about preventing bullying in schools, the facts are that bullying can occur at any time in our lives at any age.

If you’re currently experiencing bullying, verbal harassment or name-calling in any form, there are some suggested ways of handling the situation. These include:

  • Don’t reciprocate—stooping down to their level only reinforces the misbehaviour
  • Keep your distance—you never know when things could get out of hand
  • Speak up—seeking assistance from someone you trust may help defuse the problem

Consider reaching out to your support network for advice, guidance or counselling. You are not alone—there are people you can talk to if name-calling and bullying is affecting you.

Open Minds proudly operates two headspace locations in Queensland, headspace Taringa and headspace Redcliffe.

headspace provides mental counselling and support services for young people aged 12 to 25.

Find a centre near you and make an appointment if you are a young person going through a tough time.

You can also be of any age to access our Open Minds Mental Health Hub at Morayfield if you are in need of support, or you can access our free online peer support forum here.