Sometimes so much emphasis is given to eating right and working out that we forget that Mental Health is equally important to wellness as physical health and perhaps even more so when considering the health of a community.
I share this thought as a reaction to what appears to be an increase in acts of bullying. We live in a land where everyone is allowed to express their opinion on every topic imaginable from politics, to religion, to race, to weight. But many are forgetting that this should not be done in harsh and hurtful ways using aggressive behavior and intimidation.
These types of negative actions affect the targeted individual’s mental health and this is especially so in children. Research by stopbullying.gov indicates that persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion, and despair, as well as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to suicidal behavior.
So as we approach spring, a time for rebirth and renewal, now is a good time to make a personal commitment to take a stand and stop bullying. Have the courage to use the simple “See something, Say Something” approach. When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time.
There is no federal anti-bullying law. Although 49 states have anti-bullying legislation, bullying is not illegal. However, parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.Organizations such as PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center recognizes bullying as a serious community issue that impacts education, physical and emotional health, and the safety and well-being of students and offers several resources.
Bottom line, if you observe someone being bullied or hear of a plan to bully, take a stand and speak out. Let the individual or group know that in a country that embraces diversity, there are alternatives, acceptable and positive ways to express one’s feelings. This might also help to improve the mental health of the potential bully. And, perhaps ask them to consider this quote by Lynette Mathr, “What if the kid you bullied at school, grew up, and turned out to be the only surgeon who could save your life?”
Jay Wojcik, Healthy Lombard
Founder, Board President, Webmaster