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Mental Health Series

Addressing bullying in schools

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I came across a news story online from ABC News that a nine year old boy committed suicide following bullying. The boy had disclosed being gay which culminated in him being bullied by fellow schoolmates. The central point of today’s discussion is bullying and its ramifications.

Have you seen kids refusing to head for classes for lame reasons? They could be experiencing bullying. Bullying is a phenomena that is rampant in our schools. It is a destructive and deliberate pattern of humiliating and harming others whom are vulnerable. The act of bullying happens consistently with victims most of the time being helpless to fight.

Those who bully can do it in so many ways that include;
Kids being punched
Their things being spoiled
Kids being teased
Nasty rumours spread about the victim
Victims being threatened
Victims being coerced to bring gifts

According to one study, those whom are bullied are at an increased risk for mental health problems, headaches, and problems adjusting to school. Others maybe sad and lonely and have tendencies of absconding from or being anxious when summoned to go to school. The commonest mental health problems include depression, parasuicide, conversion disorders and substance use disorders. A long term damage to self-esteem is possible in these circumstances.

Dealing with a child who is being bullied is difficult. Parents and guardians should avoid at all costs to blame the child for being bullied. Active listening is a basic tenet to help the child. A child who is bullied often finds it difficult to tell people thereby it is important to listen and try to address the issue.

Our school system need to have anti-bullying programmes and also employ resident mental health professionals to address this problem. As Michelle Obama once said, “we explain when someone is cruel or ac ts like a bully, you do not stoop to their level.” Let’s address this!

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Mental Health Series

Narcistic personality disorder explained

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In the Greek mythology, there once existed a god known as Narcissus. At one point Narcissus went to a pool to quench his thirst and the moment he bent to sip water he saw his image. He got stuck with admiration of his image in the pool that he died right in the pool because of thirst. He got so absorbed in himself that he neglected other important life aspects.

In this era we still have people with Narcissus traits in our midst. A personality disorder known as narcissistic personality disorder was named after Narcissus. The individuals whom are often self-centred, have absolute disdain for others, have misplaced feelings of self-importance and uniqueness are often diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder when they seek psychological help.
Other symptoms of the disorder may include;

Showing arrogant behaviour and attitude
Lack of empathy for other people
Believe that people are envious of him/her
Using or exploiting others to reach own goals
Having some sense of entitlement on leadership positions even when they have no qualifications
Exaggerate achievements and talents
Demanding special treatment when attending occasions
Monopolise conversations

The society often views the individuals having the disorder as controlling, egocentric, intolerant of others viewpoints and ultra-sensitive when criticised. Individuals with this disorder often have problems interacting with other employees in the workplace and have relationship problems. This extreme confidence is often a mask for a fragile self-esteem which often predisposes them to depression.

1 % of the world population is often affected by the disorder; with more males than females affected. Offspring of parents with the disorder are at a high risk of developing the disorders themselves! Disorders of personality are in most cases difficult to deal with but narcissism is chronic and most difficult to deal with. Psychotherapy especially group counselling maybe ideal to assist individuals with narcissistic disorder in order to try facilitate relationships with others. Medications maybe used to treat any complications or other symptoms.

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Mental Health Series

DEALING WITH GRIEF

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Every family at some point in their lives experience death. Reactions to death vary from individual to another with others having overwhelming responses. Grief is a natural expression to the loss of someone. Grief is encompassed by a wide range emotions that are influenced by cultural expectations and norms. As matter of fact, some tribes are expected to highly express themselves to demonstrate loss and not the case with others.

Following the loss, the individual’s first experience is often of denial, disbelief and shock. This can be preceded by sadness, anger, guilt and despair. The ultimate reaction is acceptance of the loss.
Normal grief fades with time, about six months to a year. In some instances, individuals may experience a different form which is termed complicated or pathologic grief. This is characterised by absent grief when individual is not demonstrating loss and delayed grief when symptoms are experienced a long time after the loss. There could also be distortion of normal grief symptoms whereby individual experience suicidal ideations or psychotic symptoms for example seeing images of the deceased in daytime.

Complicated and/or pathological grief is often experienced by individuals whom suffer loss suddenly under horrific circumstances, those dependent upon the deceased and those who believe are responsible for such a loss. It is important to acknowledge that it is not easy to deal with grief but the following can be helpful;

Catharsise feelings and express self Accept

feelings of sadness and the reality of the loss

The need to allow oneself to experience pain of loss

Have adequate sleeping time and plenty of rest

Exercise

Avoid destructive coping strategies like use of alcohol. Often when they clear off the body, feelings of sadness creeps in Grief therapy may be instituted if the normal grief process does not take course. Medication can also be used to treat symptoms and address sleeping problems when grief has taken a pathological form. As summed up by Shakespeare, “everyone can master a grief but he that has it.”

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