I’m Mike, a young person from Fremantle, WA. I’m currently studying Political Science and Employment Relations at university and one day hope to become an academic.
I have learnt a lot about the challenges young people face going through my own mental health challenges and more specifically, with a cyberbullying incident.
It’s important to note that cyberbullying can come in a lot of different forms. Sometimes cyberbullying can be as simple as an unwanted social media tag in upsetting ‘memes’, negative comments or constant angry reacts to your posts. I’ve experienced all these forms in the past, and it can hurt just as much as someone saying a mean word to your face or hearing a rumour about you.
In primary school, I made a really close bunch of friends but when it came to leaving primary school and attending high school, the easiest way to stay in touch was Facebook. Messaging my friends from primary school was a good way to keep the connection and to keep up to date on how their life was going.
During this time, my friend from primary school had recently got into a relationship and I was super happy for her. We kept in touch over social media but her new boyfriend didn’t like that. His reaction to my friend and I talking took a turn for the worst and he began threatening me on social media. He would send me private messages on Facebook saying things like “you better leave her alone or I’m going to bash you.”
I genuinely felt scared and was made to feel like I was doing something wrong, but I knew I wasn’t, I simply just wanted to talk to my friend.
He would then start to send me multiple messages a day accusing me of trying to start a physical fight with him which was not true. More threats came in and he would tell me to go to the local skate park and fight him. Of course, I wasn’t going to do that so the only thing I could do was ignore the messages and not respond.
Unfortunately, I didn’t really reach out for any support at the time, other than to mention it to my friends. I feel I probably should have reached out to my parents or a trusted adult, and kind of wished I did. If I had, maybe the online threats would have stopped and caused me less anxiety.
The incident continued for some time but eventually died off. My friend and I eventually grew apart, which can happen as you transition into senior school, but thankfully it wasn’t as a result of the bullying.
I really encourage other young people who might be going through a similar time with bullying, either online or offline, to talk to an adult that they trust. At the time of my incident, I really wished I turned to an adult for help because I think it would have really helped me at the time so I can’t stress this enough for other young people. You are not alone, there’s always someone who will have your back.
Now, when someone does something that I feel crosses a line or makes me upset or uncomfortable I feel a lot more able to reach out. Having been a part of headspace and other organisations, I feel I have strong support network to help me out. Since that situation, if somebody did something that I didn’t feel okay with online, I’ve reached out for support and I’ve felt listened to which has made it a lot easier to deal with the situation. Services like headspace are critical to helping young people through a tough time which might include instances of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can feel really isolating and knowing that someone, like headspace, has your back can mean a world of difference.