UQ efforts see bullying recognised globally as contributor to mental illness

9 Nov 2018

Bullying has been recognised globally as a risk factor for mental illness, thanks to a University of Queensland research team.  

UQ Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Hannah Thomas said the inclusion of bullying as a risk factor for major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders in the Global Burden of Disease study was a major milestone.

“For the first time on the global stage, bullying has been formally recognised as being a causative factor for mental illness,” she said.

“Being bullied increases someone’s risk of developing a depressive or anxiety disorder later in life.

“By shining a global spotlight on this issue through the Global Burden of Disease study, we can show that more needs to be done to address bullying.

“Recognition in the study will help us to lobby governments to do more, because reducing bullying among children and adolescents will ultimately prevent mental illness.”

UQ School of Public Health Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Holly Erskine said mental disorders were among the leading causes of disability worldwide, but few risk factors for these disorders were recognised in the Global Burden of Disease study.  

“Importantly, our efforts demonstrate that bullying is a public health issue affecting all regions of the world,” she said.

“It is a vital step forward in identifying potential ways to reduce the burden of mental disorders across the globe.”

The results of the Global Burden of Disease study 2017, led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, are published in The Lancet.

Media: Dr Hannah Thomas, +61 417 127 803, hannah.thomas@uq.edu.au; Dr Holly Erskine, h.erskine@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3271 8673; Faculty of Medicine communications, med.media@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 5118.