A recent study found that those who experienced or witnessed bullying at work were also more likely to take prescription mental health medication. This link does not mean the bullying experiences cause the kind of distress or illness that may lead a person to get a prescription medication.
But it does mean that someone experiencing or witnessing bullying will be more likely to take mental health medication.
The study, led by Tea Lallukka, of the Hjelt Institute within the Department of Public Health at the University of Helsinki in Finland, looked at whether being bullied at work was linked to higher use of mental health prescriptions. The researchers included 6,606 individuals in their study, all employees of the City of Helsinki in Finland. The employees, about 80 percent women, were between the ages of 40 and 60 at the start of the study in 2000 through 2002.
The study found the following:
- One in twenty surveyed said they presently felt bullied at work
- One in five women and one in eight men reported having been previously bullied at the office
- Overall, one in ten to one in seven said they were directly affected by office bullying
- One half of all participants admitted to having witnessed someone else at work being bullied.
- Ten percent of the witnesses said that they had seen it happen frequently
The most common psychotropic medication found in their research was the use of antidepressants, which is among the most common mental health medications overall independent of this study.
“These findings further suggest that tackling workplace bullying helps prevent mental health pr
oblems among employees,” the authors wrote. But that is not necessarily the case until more research can be done.
While the researchers took into account the respondents’ history of mental health prescription use, they did not control for the temperament or mental health history of the individuals surveyed. It is possible that a person being prescribed mental health medication may be more sensitive to situations in their lives and at work.
Therefore, they may be more likely to notice, experience or interpret situations as bullying than someone who is not being prescribed mental health medications.
Additionally, the kind of person who seeks help and consequently receives mental health medication may also be more likely to be the kind of person who would report bullying since this study was based on self-reporting.
The study also did not look at the intensity of the bullying or how long it went on among those who reported it, so the researchers could not be specific in linking use of mental health medications to any level of severity in the bullying.