As we grow older, we experience change in nearly every part of our lives. Negative life experiences can be stressful and this stress can affect our mental health. These experiences include:
- Bullying or harassment
- Relationship problems
- Losing your job
- Losing a loved one
Bullying or harassment
Many people will experience bullying. Anyone can be bullied – it isn’t restricted by age, race, gender, religion or sexuality. It can happen anywhere, from the classroom or sporting field to the home or the workplace. Being a victim of bullying may cause you to feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable.
Bullying can cause physical, mental and social pain and can make you feel alone, scared, angry, confused or sad. All of these can affect your mental health. If you experience bullying or harassment, talk to someone about it, whether it’s a school counsellor, employee support service, family member, friend or your doctor.
Relationship break-up can affect your health, creating a range of powerful emotions, such as fear or uncertainty for the future, anger, sadness, loneliness and isolation, and often a sense of failure. It can be difficult to adjust to new circumstances and this can affect your mental health.
Worrying about the impact of relationship break-up, separation or divorce on your children can add to the stress of your situation. Family or relationship counselling can help you to cope with relationship problems.
Sexuality is not in itself one of life’s problems. For everyone our sexuality is an intricate part of what makes us who we are. Sometimes however, understanding and coming to terms with our sexual identities can be stressful. This can particularly be the case for gay, lesbian and bisexual people. This stress is often due to fear – fear of people’s reactions to your identity. This feeling is sometimes compounded by negative societal attitudes towards gay people. Fortunately our society is becoming more open and increasingly accepts gay people as part of this day-to-day fabric. If you feel isolated or worried about your sexuality talking with one of the agencies listed here can really help.
Losing your job
Losing your job can affect your mental health in a variety of ways. It usually means a loss of income, status, daily routine and social contact. Long-term unemployment can be equally devastating, leading to isolation, low self-esteem and money worries. All of these can affect your mental health. Taking part in training courses or schemes, such as those organised by the Local Employment Service Network, can help you get back on track.
Losing a loved one
At some point in our lives we all experience the pain of losing someone we love through death. For young people, the experience is usually new and might not be spoken about. As we go through life, the experience of bereavement becomes more familiar, extending to our family, friends, colleagues and even to spouses and unfortunately, on occasion, our children. Bereavement can have a serious impact on your health. When someone dies, you enter the process of grieving. There is no right or wrong way to grieve and you can experience a wide range of emotions as you come to terms with someone’s death.
Normal feelings include being stunned at the loss, longing for the person who has died, anger towards yourself, guilt over a last encounter or what you would have liked them to know, sadness or depression. It is not unusual for you to think you hear or see the person who has died. This can be part of the grieving process.
Eventually, the shock of bereavement and the strength of your feelings should begin to fade, but it does take time to go through this process and it may affect your mental health. If this happens, it is important to get help through your doctor or a bereavement support group.