Teen Bullying and Mental Health

March 1, 2024

Teen bullying and mental health are 2 interconnected issues that have a significant impact on the well-being of young individuals. Bullying can lead to serious psychological distress. Some of these include anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, while also exacerbating existing mental health conditions.

Understanding the relationship between teen bullying and mental health is crucial. This helps someone effectively address these issues and provide support for those who may be experiencing them. 

Teen Bullying Defined

Teen bullying is a form of aggressive behavior that occurs among adolescents. It typically involves repeated and intentional harm toward another individual. This harmful behavior can take various forms, including:

  • Physical violence (hitting, punching, slapping)
  • Verbal insults
  • Emotional abuse
  • Spreading rumors
  • Exclusion from social groups
  • Cyberbullying through social media platforms

Teen bullying not only causes immediate distress and trauma for the victim but can also have long-lasting effects on their mental health and well-being. 

Don't bully be a friend written on a white board representing teen bullying and mental health
Don’t be a bully! Be a better friend.

Effects of Bullying

Bullying can have devastating effects on individuals, particularly teenagers who are still developing emotionally and psychologically. Some of the common effects of bullying include:

  • Increased feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Difficulties in school performance
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 

In certain cases, bullying can result in the death of the victim by the bully, as was the case with 16-year-old Nex Benedict


Cyberbullying is a form of bullying. It takes place online or through digital channels such as social media, texting, email, and online forums. This type of bullying can be particularly harmful due to its widespread reach and 24/7 accessibility, making it difficult for victims to escape from their tormentors. 

Cyberbullying can involve spreading rumors or hurtful messages, sharing personal information without consent, creating fake profiles to impersonate someone else, and posting embarrassing photos or videos. The effects of cyberbullying are similar to traditional forms of bullying but may also include feelings of helplessness and lack of control over one’s own privacy and reputation. 

Bullying and Suicide Statistics

Bullying has been linked to an increased risk of suicide among teenagers. Consequently, this highlights the serious consequences that can result from unchecked bullying behavior. According to different studies, victims of bullying are at a significantly higher risk for suicide and suicide attempts than their peers who have not experienced bullying.

According to statistics, individuals who are bullied are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide. Furthermore, adolescents involved in frequent bullying, either as the bully or the victim, are at a heightened risk for suicidal behavior. Furthermore, the CDC reported that 14.9% of teens have been cyberbullied, and out of those, 13.6% have made a suicide attempt.

Effects of Teen Bullying on Self-Harm

Teen bullying can have serious and detrimental effects on the mental health of individuals, increasing their risk of engaging in self-harm. Self-harm is a coping mechanism that some individuals may turn to when dealing with intense emotional pain or distress.

When faced with persistent bullying, victims may feel overwhelmed, powerless, and unable to cope with the emotional turmoil caused by the negative experiences. In an attempt to manage these painful emotions or feelings of worthlessness, some teens resort to self-harming behaviors such as cutting, burning, scratching, or hitting themselves.

Low Self-Esteem and Teen Bullying

Low self-esteem is a common consequence of teen bullying. When individuals are repeatedly subjected to negative or hostile treatment, insults, or exclusion by their peers, it can significantly impact how they perceive themselves and their worth.

Teen victims of bullying may internalize the hurtful messages and behavior directed toward them, leading to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and diminished self-worth. The constant criticism and harassment from bullies can erode confidence and contribute to a negative self-image. In turn, low self-esteem can create a situation where individuals become more vulnerable targets for further bullying. 

Depression and Bullying

The chronic stress and emotional trauma caused by teen bullying can have severe adverse effects on one’s mental health, leading to the development of depressive symptoms. When adolescents are subjected to ongoing harassment, abuse, or social exclusion from their peers, it can trigger feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, and despair. 

This prolonged exposure to bullying can disrupt the individual’s sense of well-being. As a result, it can cause the individual to start to have negative thoughts about themselves and experience negative emotions that could develop into serious depression and demand depression treatment

How Therapy Can Help With Bullying

Therapy is a valuable resource for individuals who are dealing with the distressing effects of being bullied. A therapist can provide support, guidance, and coping strategies. These help teens navigate through the challenges and emotional impact of bullying.

In therapy, individuals can work through their feelings. For example, these emotions include fear, anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression that come from being bullied. Through counseling sessions, therapists can help victims build resilience and develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress caused by bullying.

Additionally, therapy offers a safe space for individuals to express themselves openly without fear of judgment. Therapists also assist in developing assertiveness skills to address bullying situations effectively. They can also guide individuals to seek additional support from school officials, law enforcement, and other beneficial resources.

Find A Safe Space for Bullying in Chattanooga, TN

Are you or someone you know struggling with the effects of teen bullying in Chattanooga, Tennessee? At Time Wellness Tennessee, we provide a safe, secure, and supportive space to talk about your experiences. Our therapists are here to help you navigate through the challenges of bullying. Additionally, they can help someone develop healthy coping strategies for self-acceptance and confidence.

Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.