Bullying and Adolescent Mental Health in Bengaluru


In Bengaluru and other parts of India, mental health problems are common among children and adolescents. Mental health issues have a variety of causes, but social conditions and experiences often play a big role. 

Difficult family environments, trauma, and interpersonal relationships with peers can all make the development of mental health disorders more likely, both in adolescence and later on in life. Within these experiences, bullying and peer victimisation – which itself can be a type of trauma – have a significant impact on the health and well-being of many young people in both urban and rural areas.

This blog explores the effect of bullying on adolescent’s mental health in Bengaluru. It also introduces The Wave Clinic’s residential mental health support for young people and our connections with families and therapists in the region.

What Is Bullying? 

Bullying is when a person or a group deliberately harm another person who they have some kind of power over. There are lots of different forms of bullying, including verbal abuse, physical aggression, and cyberbullying. Bullying isn’t just a single action but a pattern of harm that continues over some time. 

Bullying can happen within all age groups, but it’s especially common among young people. In particular, schools are often a place where bullying begins or continues to happen. Despite efforts and interventions by some schools to prevent bullying, it remains common and, in some cases, normalised.

How Common is Bullying in Bengaluru?

Bullying happens in countries all over the world. In one study conducted across 66 countries, data showed that 32.1% of 13 to 15-year-olds had been bullied at least once in the past 2 months.

Research about bullying in Bengaluru is limited, so it’s difficult to have a reliable and accurate idea about the prevalence of bullying in the city. However, one study from 2017 looked into bullying among school-going adolescents in Bengaluru. 

The study found that almost all young people (95.5%) had been verbally bullied in their lifetime, while 78.8% had been physically bullied, and 65.9% had experienced social bullying. The authors recognise, however, that these figures may be higher than other studies because of the type of measures they used.

How Does Bullying Affect Young People’s Mental Health in Bengaluru?

Research has established that bullying can cause present and long-term harm to young people’s mental health. Bullying is a stressful and often traumatic experience for children and adolescents that may affect their self-esteem and cause severe anxiety about the future.

Among children and adolescents, experiences of bullying are associated with symptoms of:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • social isolation
  • self-harm behaviours
  • suicidal ideation
  • psychotic symptoms such as auditory and visual hallucinations

Importantly, research has found that the link between bullying and mental health problems cannot be explained by other factors, like family backgrounds or social relationships. Instead, being a target of bullying directly increases the risk of mental health symptoms.

Being a target of bullying not only affect young people’s current mental health but also their well-being in the future. Young adults who are bullied as children experience lasting effects on their psychological well-being, relationships and trust, eating disorders, and body image. 

As with other places across the world, young people who are bullied in Bengaluru are also more likely to experience mental health problems. The previously mentioned study found that emotional symptoms were associated with social bullying, verbal victimization, physical victimization, and social victimisation. Conduct problems and hyperactivity-inattention were linked to all forms of bullying.

How Can Schools Help to Prevent Bullying?

Researchers in Bengaluru suggest that school-based psychosocial interventions that promote healthy interpersonal relationships while screening for mental health issues could both help to prevent bullying and identify those who need support. This might include life skills approaches and social-emotional learning programs that support young people to understand and manage emotions, set positive goals, and maintain empathetic and positive relationships.

Interventions may also involve education and practices that establish a no tolerance approach towards bullying, as well as effective reporting systems and collaborations with parents and families. 

The Wave Clinic: Supporting Young People to Recover from Bullying, Experiences of Trauma, and Mental Health Concerns

Young people who have experienced bullying or other forms of trauma are more likely to develop mental health disorders at the time and later in life. Mental health disorders seriously affect the daily lives of young people and usually require professional support.

While there is some mental health support available for young people in Bengaluru, quality healthcare is inaccessible to most people. Specialised residential care can be especially hard to find.

In recent years, we’ve seen more and more families from Bengaluru travel to The Wave Clinic for treatment. We offer residential mental health support for children and adolescents from our space in Kuala Lumpur, with expertise in eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, trauma, and other mental health concerns. Our programs combine exceptional clinical care with personal learning programs, vocational education qualifications, internships, volunteering, and other opportunities, supporting young people to plan and build fulfilling futures.

Our Community of Parents in Bengaluru

In Bengaluru, we’re connected to a growing community of families who are currently or previously in treatment at The Wave. Within this community, families develop life-long relationships of support based on a shared understanding of parenting and experiences of young people’s mental health.

These relationships are important from the start of treatment, where our buddy system facilitates the sharing of first-hand information about our programs from the family’s perspective. Later, these enable young people to meet up, have sleepovers, and enjoy get-togethers with friends from The Wave, staying with other families from our community. 

Through these experiences, young people can maintain and deepen their friendships while parents remain reassured that the families they visit have the same shared understanding of the additional tools of support that young people with mental health problems may require.

Returning Home

Returning home from a residential program is one of the most important stages of a young person’s recovery journey. Adolescents and young adults inevitably face challenges as they transition back to their school, family environment, community, and daily routines. During this time, young people require ongoing support and oversight to help them effectively navigate these challenges and continue to grow and heal.

At The Wave, we plan for a young person’s return home from the start of their time with us. We organise follow-up care with trusted therapists in and around Bengaluru, ensuring they receive ongoing, high-quality care. These therapists liaise with our team at our centre to create continuity and consistency for every young person.

Contact Us Today

The Wave Clinic is a specialist treatment space for children, adolescents, young adults, and families in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, offering trauma-focused recovery programs for eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, and other mental health concerns.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our programs, contact us today. We’re here to make a difference.

Fiona - The Wave Clinic

Fiona Yassin is the founder and clinical director at The Wave Clinic. She is a U.K. and International registered Psychotherapist and Accredited Clinical Supervisor (U.K. and UNCG).

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