Does Bullying in Workplaces Affect Mental Health

Workplace bullying is a pervasive issue that affects countless employees across various industries. This behaviour, characterized by repeated and unreasonable actions directed towards an employee or group of employees, can have severe repercussions on mental health. As we delve into this critical topic, it is essential to understand the profound impact that workplace bullying has on mental well-being, and what measures can be taken to mitigate these effects.

Understanding Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying encompasses a range of behaviours including verbal abuse, social exclusion, and intimidation. These actions can be overt, such as yelling or public humiliation, or more covert, such as spreading rumours or deliberately undermining someone’s work. Regardless of the form it takes, the goal is often to belittle or control the victim, leading to a toxic work environment.

The Impact on Mental Health

Stress and Anxiety

One of the immediate effects of workplace bullying is increased stress and anxiety. Victims often feel a constant sense of dread about going to work for fear of further harassment. This chronic stress can lead to more severe anxiety disorders, affecting both personal and professional life.


Prolonged exposure to bullying can result in depression. Employees may feel helpless and trapped in their situation, leading to a significant drop in mood, energy, and overall life satisfaction. This can spiral into clinical depression, necessitating medical intervention and long-term therapy.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

In severe cases, workplace bullying can lead to PTSD. Symptoms include flashbacks, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the traumatic events. This condition can severely impair a person’s ability to function both at work and in their personal life.

Decreased Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

Consistent bullying erodes an individual’s self-esteem and self-worth. Victims often internalize the negative behaviour, believing that they are at fault or that they deserve the mistreatment. This diminished self-confidence can hinder career advancement and personal development.

The Broader Impact on Organizations

The effects of workplace bullying extend beyond the individuals directly involved. Companies where bullying is prevalent often suffer from:

  • High Turnover Rates: Employees are more likely to leave a toxic work environment, leading to increased recruitment and training costs.
  • Reduced Productivity: Victims of bullying are less likely to be productive, often due to decreased motivation and the mental toll of their experiences.
  • Poor Workplace Morale: A culture of bullying can lead to low morale among employees, resulting in a negative work atmosphere and reduced collaboration.

Addressing Workplace Bullying

Creating a Supportive Environment

Organizations need to foster a supportive environment where employees feel safe and valued. This involves promoting open communication, encouraging teamwork, and providing resources for mental health support.

Implementing Anti-Bullying Policies

Clear anti-bullying policies should be established and communicated to all employees. These policies must outline what constitutes bullying, the procedures for reporting it, and the consequences for perpetrators.

Training and Education

Regular training sessions on recognizing and preventing workplace bullying can help employees identify inappropriate behaviour and empower them to take action. Education can also promote empathy and understanding among staff.

Providing Support Systems

Offering access to counselling services, such as Employee Assistant Programs (EAP), and creating employee support groups can provide victims with the necessary resources to cope with bullying. It’s also important for organizations to have a clear reporting system that protects victims from retaliation.

Legal Protections and Resources in Australia

In Australia, workplace bullying is recognized as a significant issue, and there are legal frameworks in place to protect employees. The Fair Work Commission provides guidelines and support for individuals experiencing bullying. Additionally, Safe Work Australia offers extensive resources and recommendations for creating safer work environments.

For more information, visit Fair Work Commission and Safe Work Australia.

FAQ Section

  1. What constitutes workplace bullying? Workplace bullying includes repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards an employee or a group, intended to intimidate, offend, degrade, or humiliate. Examples include verbal abuse, social exclusion, and sabotaging someone’s work.
  2. How can I report workplace bullying in Australia? Employees in Australia can report workplace bullying to the Fair Work Commission. It is highly advisable to document instances of bullying and follow any internal reporting procedures outlined by your employer.
  3. What are the signs that I am being bullied at work? Signs of workplace bullying include feeling anxious about going to work, experiencing frequent headaches or stomach aches, having trouble sleeping, and noticing a significant drop in your self-esteem.
  4. Can workplace bullying lead to legal action? Yes, if workplace bullying violates occupational health and safety laws or anti-discrimination laws, it can lead to legal action. Employees have the right to a safe work environment.
  5. What can employers do to prevent workplace bullying? Employers can prevent workplace bullying by creating clear anti-bullying policies, fostering a supportive work culture, providing training, and offering resources for mental health support.


Workplace bullying is a critical issue that significantly impacts the mental health of employees.

From increased stress and anxiety to depression and PTSD, the effects can be devastating. It also poses broader challenges for organizations, including high turnover rates and reduced productivity.

Addressing workplace bullying requires a concerted effort to create a supportive environment, implement clear policies, and provide adequate resources and training.

In Australia, legal frameworks and resources are available to support victims and promote safer workplaces. By taking proactive steps, both employees and employers can work together to combat workplace bullying and foster healthier, more productive work environments that will assist the mental health of all.



If you have a bullying issues in the workplace, contact Jolasers Investigations for a confidential discussion about how you can address the issues.

Jolasers Investigations undertake investigations throughout Melbourne, Regional Victoria and Southern NSW including:

  1. Wagga Wagga
  2. Geelong
  3. Shepparton