OPA is taking part in Mental Health Awareness Month to bring public awareness to the critical importance of mental health. This Thursday, the association is joining the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in recognizing National Children’s Mental Health Day.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), systematic international research has shown school bullying to be a frequent and serious public health problem. Psychologists and other mental health professionals are using this research to develop bullying prevention programs that are being implemented in schools around the world.
Current OPA president, Dr. Jim Broyles launched a task force to examine how psychologists may become a part of the solution to prevent and respond to bullying.
Dr. Broyles said, “As a group, psychologists are very aware and concerned about this topic, and the ongoing issues which continue to spring to light associated with it. Many of us work with children and families who are affected by bullying. Our clients can be individuals who are the target of a bully or in some cases may be the bullies themselves, who have their own unique psychological issues and needs.”
Dr. Kimberly Burkhart chairs the Bullying Prevention Task Force whose mission it is to increase awareness about warning signs that bullying may be occurring and to connect families, as well as school staff with resources.
Children who bully may exhibit the following characteristics:
• Getting into physical or verbal fights
• Acquiring new belongings that are unexplainable
• Increasing aggressiveness and competitiveness
• Blaming others for his/her mistakes
Children who have been victimized may have some of the following characteristics:
• Unexplainable injuries
• Destroyed property
• Changes in eating habits
• Decline in academic performance
• Decreased self-esteem
• Avoidance of social situations
• Engaging in self-destructive behavior
• Frequent stomachaches or headaches
• Sleep problems
Students who experience bullying may feel depressed or anxious. If your child or student is having trouble at school, problems with relationships, or displaying signs or symptoms listed above as a result of bullying, a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, can help your child develop coping skills to manage negative emotions and to respond to bullying. Mental health professionals can also work with children who bully to help decrease behavioral problems and better manage anger.