There are "serious mental health consequences" for young people who are bullied at school, a charity is warning, as it emerged almost two thirds of pupils are victims of bullying.
Nearly half of young people who said they were bullied at school also reported experiencing mental health issues including anxiety, depression, self-harm and sucidal thinking as a result of their experiences.
A third of children who are bullied say they avoid school or college as a way of coping, according to the survey from the Anti-Bullying Alliance.
The research found 70% of teachers feel ill-equipped to support children with mental health issues related to bullying. It also emerged more than half of the 16 to 25 year olds who reported being bullied said it changed their behaviour and the way they felt, such as feeling angry or withdrawn; and just under half (43%) said they experienced body image anxieties.
One young person told the charity: "When I began high school, I got verbally abused every day and was even beaten up in school. It did lead to me developing severe mental health issues at the time, I was afraid of going to school, so had to move. It was a dark and scary time."
Many of the young people polled in the survey said the effects of bullying have continued to cast a shadow over their lives after leaving school.
Nearly half said being bullied has had a long lasting effect on their self-esteem and confidence since leaving school and almost 37% of those bullied said it had had a negative effect on their ability to form personal relationships.
Lauren Seager-Smith, national coordinator of the Anti-Bullying Alliance said bullying is a public health issue, and called for more teachers to be trained in how to deal with it.
"We all need to play our part to stop bullying wherever and whenever it happens – whether it’s in school, the community or online – but it’s vital that we also invest in support for children and families impacted by bullying."
Sarah Brennan, CEO of mental health charity YoungMinds added: "We tend to think of bullying as a series of throwaway incidents in a child's life but this survey shows how devastating and life-changing the experience of bullying can be.
"If it isn't dealt with effectively it can lead to years of pain and suffering that go on long into adulthood.
"With the advent of social media bullying doesn't stop when school ends it continues 24 hours a day, so we need to fully support young people both on and off-line to deal with the consequences and to enable them to recover and flourish."
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said the union was "extremely concerned" about the results of the survey.
"Despite the obvious need for greater expertise amongst education professionals, just 9% of school staff feel sufficiently trained to identify the signs of mental health issues in pupils.
"A worrying 32% of respondents stated they were given no training whatsoever to help spot potential issues, while 45% feel the training they received was insufficient."
Bullying UK - Advice on bullying at work, school and cyberbullying - 0808 800 2222
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