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7. What happens when someone is bullied or harassed?

7.1 Bullying and harassment undermine physical and mental health which results in poor work performance and low academic achievement in many cases.

People who are bullied lose their self confidence, self esteem and are at increased risk of suffering stress. They can experience a range of symptoms; including:

  • Depression
  • Self-doubt and loss of confidence
  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inability to relax or switch off from work and study

7.2 Work-related stress is now widely recognised as a significant problem in the health service. If stress remains untreated the following consequences become very real.


  • Smoking – over indulgence
  • Alcohol/Drugs – over indulgence
  • Accidents
  • Impulsive, emotional behaviour
  • Relationships at home suffer, breakdown
  • Poor workplace performance
  • Emotional withdrawal of person
  • Social isolation


  • Headaches
  • Backaches
  • Poor sleep patterns
  • Indigestion
  • Chest pains, anxiety
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Excessive sweating and trembling
  • Heart disease – (long term effect of problem not being dealt with)
  • Hypertension
  • Ulcers and general poor health


  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety
  • Boredom
  • Irritability
  • Depression, a condition in which feelings like sadness, loss of interest, reduced energy, suicidal thoughts and sleep and appetite disturbance go beyond normal mood changes. If depression becomes severe, it becomes difficult even to carry out relatively normal tasks – even getting up in the morning seems impossible to achieve. Life becomes increasingly bleak and despair clouds all thoughts and actions.
  • Inability to concentrate and apathy
  • Insomnia, chronic depression and anxiety (long term effects of the problem not being resolved)
  • Anger and irritability – this may be expressed directly at the bully, or towards innocent colleagues who quite simply happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

7.3 In addition to serious illness, such as depression, those being bullied or harassed may be more likely to be absent from university or practice placement due to illness. Those suffering from stress become more susceptible to minor illnesses such as colds, irritable bowel syndrome and migraine. This could lead to a relatively high sickness absence level, which in turn could lead to an investigation into sick record levels. All the above effects of bullying and harassment can lead to the victim‟s work and study suffering with an increased likelihood of mistakes and oversights occurring.

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