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  • Writer's pictureIan Ferguson

Bullying & Mental Health

Updated: Nov 7, 2020

Bullying takes many forms and can be experienced by children and adults alike. One thing I know is that all forms of bullying, be they of a physical or verbal nature, can have significant negative and destructive effects on mental and emotional health. Here is something can happen in an office, a classroom, a home, and even a church. Have you experienced some form of bullying? Like me, you probably don't recognize it at first.

There is physical bullying involving physical pain caused by someone hitting, kicking, or pushing you physically. There are other forms of physical bullying that can bring lasting damage to your mental and emotional health. There is verbal bullying where someone engages in conversations that seek to demean you. Name-calling, teasing, derogatory racial remarks, intimidation that seeks to control you. There is social bullying involving the way people speak about you. Spreading gossip and rumor and accusations behind your back that seeks to damage your reputation and your good name. There is cyberbullying, sadly, now so prevalent in our society today. This is the coward who hides behind their faceless Facebook or social media comments, with disgusting language and violent threats designed to intimidate you and make you feel afraid. "Cyberbullying can happen at any time. It can be in public or in private and sometimes only known to the target and the person bullying. Cyberbullying can include: Abusive or hurtful texts emails or posts, images or videos Deliberately excluding others online Nasty gossip or rumors Imitating others online or using their log-in" Recently we have seen the cyberbullies at work over the whole matter of BREXIT where faceless bullies think that anyone is fair game for insults and abuse. This kind of bullying is particularly difficult to handle because the bully remains hidden and faceless, and that is why they do it. They are the cowards. They are less than human. They are pathetic. Yet they cause so much damage to good people.

We find, sadly, many forms of bullying in the church. This can happen to church leaders and by church leaders. Let's be clear, I am talking about the sustained and deliberate use of language, threat, and intimidation. The reason I mention this is because this kind of behavior can deeply affect your mental health and, as a result, affect your ministry as a church leader.

You are not alone- many of us have been at the end of some horrid bullying.

Sadly, some have left the church ministry as a result of their experience of being bullied.

Jesus offers a way forward.

His love can heal the wounds.

His grace can help us to forgive and to be forgiven.



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