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Perspectives on what schools and mental health services can do about bullying of adolescents with severe emotional health conditions.

journal contribution
posted on 21.07.2020, 12:06 by Tania Hart, Michelle O'Reilly
Despite evidence identifying bullying as leading to severe distress, few studies have focused on bullied adolescents with existing mental health conditions. With increasing prevalence rates, it is necessary to understand how these adolescents can be better safeguarded. To address the issue, this study reports the rarely conveyed viewpoints of adolescents attending mental health services; clinically diagnosed with severe emotional conditions. To complement these perspectives, the viewpoints of their parents and teachers were also obtained. Thematic analysis identifiedschool bullying as a serious stressor, contributing to and exacerbating their mental health need. They were prone to being trapped in a cycle of victimisation, complicated further by theirpreference for secrecy. Adolescents and their parents felt bullying problems could be appropriately managed if school staff were better tuned into the subtle signs of bullying, and managed disclosure more sensitively by working collaboratively with them and their assigned mental health practitioner. Recommendations were, a need for staff to better detect bullying distress and strengthen multi-agency links when bullying is suspected, to ensure quick, proactive intervention. Furthermore, schools could consider amalgamating the bullying and mental health whole school approaches, due to the intrinsic links between bullying and mental health.



Pastoral Care in Education: An International Journal of Personal, Social and Emotional Development, 2020,

Author affiliation

Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour, College of Life Sciences


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Pastoral Care in Education: An International Journal of Personal, Social and Emotional Development


Taylor & Francis (Routledge)



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