Grace’s experience of online bullying and poor mental health
11-year-old Grace* felt lonely and isolated after moving to a new area with her mum and younger brother, Callum. She wasn’t making many friends at her new secondary school, and was often left to sit by herself at break times. To keep in touch with her old friends, she used Tik Tok and Instagram - but soon she began receiving unpleasant comments and messages about her dad, who is serving a prison sentence and is on the sex offenders register.
Grace struggled to ignore the messages. She felt a lot of shame, and didn’t want to talk to her mum because some of them said horrible things about her too. Besides, she didn’t feel like there was anything her mum could do to help - and wanted to spare her feelings.
The messages came from anonymous accounts - there were no pictures or profile information, so Grace didn’t know who they were coming from. But they kept coming. On Snapchat, Tik Tok and then Whatsapp too.
Grace felt ‘outside’ of everything. She experienced self-loathing and had a very negative self-image. She even thought about doing what the messages told her to do - and tried to end her life.
Her nurse referred her to one of our services. Our support workers are helping Grace to process what’s going on, and working through how she can cope. They’re helping her understand people’s intentions - and ensuring she has autonomy and control. We’re working to protect the family, and support Grace’s mum so she can help her use social media safely.
In 2017-18, we supported 32,200 children, young people, parents and carers through our commissioned mental health services.
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All stories are true. However, names and some identifying details have been changed and models used, in order to protect the privacy of the children we help.