The statistics around bullying in NZ are shocking. What makes them especially alarming is the link between bullying and suicide rates in teenagers, and long-term mental health. It’s Bullying Free week this week. The aim of Bullying Free, which is run by the Ministry of Education, is to prevent bullying in Aotearoa. They provide support and resources to schools, communities and families.
UK research by the NICHD (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) showed that anyone involved with bullying, those who bully others, and those who are bullied, are at increased risk for depression. Depression can be a life long illness with a pervasive impact on individuals and families.
While we are much more aware of and open about mental health than we were 10 or even 5 years ago we still have a long way to go. The 2016/17 New ZealandHealth Survey found that:
- 1 in 6 New Zealand adults had been diagnosed with a common mental disorder at some time in their lives. This includes depression, bipolar disorders and anxiety disorders.
- Mental disorders, as a group, are the third-leading cause of health loss for New Zealanders. (Health loss includes risk of illness, disability, and early death.)
- Females are more likely to experience a common mental disorder than males, regardless of age.
- The highest rates of common mental disorder were from 35 to 44 years of age for women and from 45 to 55 years of age for men.
- Māori and Pacific have higher rates of being diagnosed with mental disorders or experiencing psychological distress than the rest of the population.
- People living in the most socio-economically deprived areas were nearly three times more likely to experience psychological distress as those living in the least deprived areas – after adjusting for age, sex and ethnicity.
When it comes to your Life insurance it is standard to be asked questions about your health and lifestyle. This includes whether you have had depression, anxiety or stress that required professional advice, treatment or time off work. Specifically, this includes
conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anorexia, bulimia, bipolar disorder, psychosis, alcohol or substance abuse, self-harm, schizophrenia or other personality disorders as well as panic attacks or disorders from anxiety.
We ask these questions to understand your health status in the same way we ask whether you have or have had any physical health issues. For example, the health of your cardio and respiratory systems. Just because you have had challenges in the past doesn’t mean you can’t get life cover today, but we recommend you answer the questions honestly to make sure there are no problems later.
(We often get asked if we cover suicide. The short answer is yes, we do, although we don’t provide cover for suicide for at least the first 13 months. The main reason for this is to make sure that people who may be thinking about suicide aren't influenced by believing that their family will be financially looked after immediately.)
Given the link between life-long mental health and school bullying at Pinnacle we believe it’s important that we give victims of bullying and bullies, the attention and thoughtfulness they need so that they can go on to live full and happy lives.
Dealing with bullying and mental health challenges can be really rough and very isolating. The support you need will vary depending on the challenges you’re facing. If you’re a parent looking for resources to understand what your child may be facing and how to help them the BullyingFree website has a number of links, and netsafe nz specifically provides support and information for cyber and social bullying. If you want help for your own mental health, depression.org.nz has a great section on the different options. Don’t worry it’s not as overwhelming as it sounds. Help and support is out there.