Sometimes our friends can be the ones engaging in bullying, and that can be harder to recognize. They may laugh it off or say, “just kidding!” But when the behavior doesn’t change, it still hurts.
We all have bad days. If a friend hurts your feelings once in a while, it’s probably an accident, a misunderstanding, or a mistake. But if they consistently make you feel bad about yourself, even after you ask them to stop, that’s not friendship.
Spend your time around people who lift you up, not people who tear you down. If you need help understanding or dealing with the situation, ask a parent, teacher, or trusted adult for help.
Story sharing is powerful. Through our stories, we realize that we are not alone in our suffering or our triumphs. We use stories to create safe spaces — free of judgment, free to love.
“I Define Me” stories are about stepping into your power and overcoming adversity. They are real stories from real people, meant to inspire.
We invite you to share your story. Your perspective matters. Through it, you can inspire, uplift, and empower others.
Studies have shown that youth who spend three or more hours a day on social media are at increased risk of mental health problems.
Social media feeds are carefully curated, and it’s easy to fall into a comparison trap. Scrolling Instagram or Facebook can make you feel like everyone is leading perfect, ideal lives -- except you. Of course, when something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
There are many benefits to connecting with people online, regardless of physical distance and other barriers. But social media is no substitute for personal interaction. When we rely too much on social media for connection, we may end up feeling lonelier and more isolated.
For more information, check out our blog post Social Media: 5 Tips to Break the Cycle and Find Balance.
Depression is characterized by long-lasting feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness, and/or a loss of interest and pleasure. It’s not the same thing as feeling sad once in a while. People with depression may experience difficulty sleeping or concentrating, changes to their appetite, weight loss or gain, low energy, prolonged feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and intrusive thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Depression is real, and it’s serious. It’s the most common mental illness, affecting over 10% of adolescents and young adults. But fortunately, it is treatable.
80% of people with depression begin to feel better within six weeks of starting treatment. But only about half of those affected ever get treatment. That’s why it’s so important to speak openly about mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding depression and other illnesses.
For more information, check out this blog post: What Does Depression Feel Like?
If someone is bullying you at school, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell a trusted adult, like a parent, teacher, or counselor. They want you to feel safe at school, and they can help put a stop to the behavior.
When bullying happens, don’t respond. When people bully, they are looking for a reaction. Instead, firmly tell them to stop, then walk away. Or simply ignore them and focus on something else. Avoid the person who is bothering you and buddy up with a friend whenever possible.
Remember that bullying is not about you. When people bully, it’s often because they are in pain themselves. Be a role model: be kind to others, stand up for love, and celebrate individuality.
You may have heard people say anxiety is “all in your head.” But anxiety is real, and it can interfere with your ability to enjoy and fully experience your life.
Physical symptoms of anxiety include rapid heartbeat or breathing, tightness in the chest, upset stomach, sweating, headache, muscle tension, and insomnia. Mental anxiety symptoms include excessive worry, intrusive or unwanted thoughts, fear, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and restlessness.
Everyone experiences anxiety a little differently, but one thing is certain: you don’t have to suffer in silence.
Bullying is using words or actions to hurt someone on purpose. It usually happens repeatedly over time, and it can be hard to stop. Bullying behaviors include ridicule, threats, rumors, embarrassment, taunts, intimidation, hate speech, assault, and sexual harassment. It can happen anywhere: at school, in the community, or online (cyberbullying).
For more information on what bullying looks like, check out these blog posts:
People with depression need support. You can make a difference in someone’s life by letting them know you’re there, you care, and you’re in their corner. If you think someone you know is struggling with depression, share your concern. You don’t have to know the “right” thing to say or give any advice. Just be present. Listen without judgment. Ask how you can help, and let the person know that they are important and valued. Your support may be exactly what they need to get through. If you are concerned that someone may be in danger of hurting themselves or others, get immediate help. Tell a trusted adult, call 911, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.For more information, check out our blog post on Suicide Prevention: 5 Action Steps to Prevent Suicide.
- Teaching emotional and social skills around self-awareness, decision-making, and relationships
- Addressing positive and negative behaviors without labeling people (“bullies” or “victims”)
- Providing safe spaces and opportunities for connection and open communication
- Encouraging and celebrating individuality, diversity, and creative self-expression through the arts
- Calmly and firmly tell the person to stop or simply ignore them.
- Walk away, and if possible, buddy up with a more supportive friend.
- Tell a teacher, parent, or other trusted adult what is happening.
- Talk about it. Reach out to a trusted adult — like a parent, teacher, or counselor — and tell them what you’re experiencing. They want you to stay safe and will help you solve the problem.
- Save the evidence. Take screenshots and keep the messages you receive. Share them with the adult helping you so they can fully understand what’s happening.
- Block the person. Stop all communication. Don’t engage or respond to comments. Block the person on social media, screen their calls, and don’t read their texts.
- Be careful of what you share online. Never share passwords, private photos, or personal information like your address or phone number online, even with your friends. That information can be used to target and hurt you.
I believe LUV is STRONGER than hate
and BRAVER than bullying.
I believe when we stand together,
we stand strong.
I will be a voice for the voiceless.
I have zero tolerance for bullying
or discrimination of any kind.
I am committed to being the best
version of myself to create change.Our empowerment events and arts programming impact youth online, in schools, and communities across the country. And our We Care program has gifted over 20,000 empowerment packages to youth suffering from low self-esteem, bullying, and destructive thoughts. We invite you to stand with us.
- Connect with others. Spend time with friends and family. Talk about your feelings. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
- Practice self-care. Eat a balanced diet, move your body, and get plenty of sleep. Taking care of your body can help you feel better.
- Learn something new. Try a new hobby or take up a new skill. Express yourself creatively through art, writing, dance, drama, or whatever makes your heart happy.
- Reach out. The most important thing is to remember that you are not alone. People with depression often feel ashamed or isolated. But people care about you and want to help. Asking for help does not mean you are weak or a burden. So tell a trusted family member or friend what you are experiencing. If you can’t or don’t feel comfortable, connect online, or call a crisis line:
- Do something to make yourself feel good. Even if you feel like you’ve lost interest in the things you once enjoyed, try doing them. Whether that’s listening to music, doing art, writing, being with a pet, taking a walk, or playing a game, you may find something that helps boost your mood.
- Take care of your body. It’s easy to neglect your self-care when you’re depressed. Make sure you are eating well, drinking enough water, getting adequate rest, and exercising. Try to get some fresh air and sunlight. Find ways to manage stress, such as deep breathing, stretching, and other relaxation exercises.