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Effects of workplace bullying and harassment

Workplace bullying often has a lasting impact on your overall mental and physical health and your ability to sustain future employment.

Author: Coral Krombholz, December 2019


Workplace bullying is continued behaviour which causes fear, stress and discomfort to an employee. Bullying can occur verbally, in writing, or online. Further, bullying can be physical, verbal and psychological.  It can be any behaviour that causes humiliation, discomfort and fear for anyone and if continued can cause the person to either quit or regress and suffer stress, anxiety and depression.  Bullying includes repeated hurtful remarks or attacks, making fun of your work or you as a person (including your family, sex, sexuality, gender identity, race or culture, education or economic background). If this is not addressed effectively, this can lead to a toxic and hostile work environment.
 
Workplace bullying can happen in any type of workplace, from offices to shops, cafes and restaurants, factories and workshops, community groups and government organisations.
It can happen to volunteers, work experience students, interns, apprentices, casual and permanent employees.
Anyone who has been a target of workplace bullying knows the pain that this type of harassment and humiliation causes.
 
Targets of workplace bullying deal with a host of health issues including sleeplessness, stomach issues, headaches, and stress conditions. They also may deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, eating disorders, depression, and thoughts of suicide. Any symptoms should be talked over with your doctor but it is also a good idea to find a counsellor to debrief on your experience and to work through its impact on you, your health and your life. Remember, being targeted by a workplace bully does more than impact your mood or self-esteem. It also can impact your physical health and ignoring your symptoms can lead to a host of other health issues but also in your ability to sustain employment the next time around.
 
As a job seeker who has experienced bullying and harassment in the workplace, being able to move on from this is important for your next employment role. You might be able to gain employment but your ability to stay employed could be compromised, especially if there are similar types of issues in your new workplace. Seeing a Counsellor can help you break down your experience, and learn tactics to manage the situation and your own emotions in a more positive way. This could be the difference to make your next job a better one.
 
As a Counsellor I have seen the impact that a bad employment experience can have. One example is a client that was having difficulty holding onto a job, most only lasted weeks and then they would quit. There was always a reason the job was not for them.  After a lengthy conversation, it became clear that they experienced bullying and harassment because of their culture, strong family beliefs and because they looked and spoke differently.
Other experiences include sexual harassment like continual comments being made about looks and the way they dressed, being asked out for drinks and followed after work. All of this is not acceptable in the workplace.
 
Workplace bullying often has a lasting impact on your overall mental and physical health and your ability to sustain future employment. If these or any other issue are something that is affecting you and you are a registered member with DOME, give DOME a call and book an appointment with our Counsellor Coral.
 
Remember: There are some types of workplace bullying that are criminal offences. If you have experienced violence, assault or stalking you can report it directly to the police.

About the Author: Coral Krombholz is DOME’s Volunteer Counsellor and has a Diploma of Counselling, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and Certificate IV in Career Development and Career Counselling along with 15 years working to deliver Career Development and Counselling services in Adelaide and in the Northern Territory. Coral provides Counselling appointments on a Tuesday afternoon at DOME’s Adelaide office.  These FREE Counselling sessions are available to our registered members.

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Johanna Milbank

Johanna Milbank

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