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Pink Shirt 2021

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Bullying: a significant predictor of poor mental health

Friday 21st of May, 2021 is Pink Shirt Day. A day to recognise the impact of bullying and to help empower people to speak up against bullying. Bullying is a deliberate act with the intention to cause harm to another. Whilst bullying can be a one-off act, it often involves repetitive acts of harm towards another person.  Bullying significantly impacts wellbeing and can increase the risk of suicide through the bullied individual feeling disconnected, ostracised and worthless.

Organisationally, a culture of bullying has been associated with suicide [1-7] where being bullied triples the risk of suicide and doubles the risk of depression [4].  Conflict with peers or management has also been found to increase the risk of suicide [8], as does being supervised by someone whom the employee perceives to be bullying or abusive [9].

As employers or people who care for others (such as schools and helping agencies), we have a duty to intervene and stop bullying when we are aware that it is occurring.  Organisations that successfully manage bullying have zero tolerance for bullying, have policies in place to manage bullying, and supports in place for victims.  These strategies are often part of a wider wellbeing programme and are important to support employees and also the overall wellbeing of the organisation.

So what is your organisation doing for Pink Shirt Day (https://www.pinkshirtday.org.nz/)? The first step might be celebrating Pink Shirt Day to start a conversation about bullying and to raise awareness.  Why not run a Pink Shirt Day event?  There are lots of resources at the Pink Shirt Day site.  But what comes next? How are you supporting your organisation to be bully-free and what is your organisation doing to support staff wellbeing?

If you would like to talk more about how to better support your organisational wellbeing, give us a call or send us an email. We are always happy to help and ready to talk.

1.            Leach, L.S., C. Poyser, and P. Butterworth, Workplace bullying and the association with suicidal ideation/thoughts and behaviour: a systematic review. Occupational and environmental medicine, 2017. 74(1): p. 72-79.

2.            Milner, A., et al., Psychosocial Working Conditions and Suicide Ideation: Evidence From a Cross-Sectional Survey of Working Australians. J Occup Environ Med, 2016. 58(6): p. 584-7.

3.            Nielsen, M.B., et al., Workplace Bullying and Suicidal Ideation: A 3-Wave Longitudinal Norwegian Study. Am J Public Health, 2015. 105(11): p. e23-8.

4.            Miller, P., et al., Bullying in Fly-In-Fly-Out employees in the Australian resources sector: A cross-sectional study. PLoS One, 2020. 15(3): p. e0229970.

5.            Yildirim, D., A. Yildirim, and A. Timucin, Mobbing behaviors encountered by nurse teaching staff. Nurs Ethics, 2007. 14(4): p. 447-63; discussion 463-5.

6.            Balducci, C., V. Alfano, and F. Fraccaroli, Relationships between mobbing at work and MMPI-2 personality profile, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and suicidal ideation and behavior. Violence Vict, 2009. 24(1): p. 52-67.

7.            Nielsen, M.B., et al., Does exposure to bullying behaviors at the workplace contribute to later suicidal ideation? A three-wave longitudinal study. Scand J Work Environ Health, 2016. 42(3): p. 246-50.

8.            Routley, V.H. and J.E. Ozanne-Smith, Work-related suicide in Victoria, Australia: a broad perspective. Int J Inj Contr Saf Promot, 2012. 19(2): p. 131-4.

9.            Liu, Y., et al., Abusive Supervision and Suicidal Ideation: The Potential Role of Meaning in Life. Deviant Behavior, 2020: p. 1-12.

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