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WATCH: No Roles for Trolls - Emily Stokes from Mikeysline on the impact of trolling on mental health

By Federica Stefani

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emily Stokes from Mickeysline joined us for our anti-trolling campaign to talk about the impact that online abuse can have on mental health.
emily Stokes from Mickeysline joined us for our anti-trolling campaign to talk about the impact that online abuse can have on mental health.

One of the most dramatic effects that trolling and online abuse can have is getting under the skin of those who receive abuse, becoming a constant pressure and worry in their daily lives - a presence which can lead to very extreme consequences.

This is why this week, our anti-trolling campaign led us to Mikeysline's service manager, Emily Stokes, to speak about what repercussions trolling can have on the individual's mental health.

"It’s in fact, a very severe form of bullying, because there is no escape from it," she said.

"It can lead to low self esteem, disrupted sleep, depression, self harm and suicidal thoughts. In extreme cases it can also lead to suicide."

Over the years, mental health and suicide prevention charity Mikeysline have supported a number of people who have experienced bullying – cyber or in other forms.

"It has an impact on the feeling of self-worth, confidence and then mental wellbeing, and on the life choices people have gone on to make as a result of that," she added.

Ms Stokes highlighted how this cam have a hugely negative impact on the individual both personally and professionally in the case of trolling on a business page.

However, it is the younger generations that seem to be more at risk of becoming victims of such negative behaviours.

"There is a growing trend amongst young people engaging on these forums and social media, and research has shown that the majority of young people didn’t actually appreciate that what they can say, the kind of comments that they make, can have an impact on other individuals.

"I think that, in terms of living in the Highlands, people often live in quite isolated places and they may think they have nowhere they can go to for support, and that may be part of the problem.

"Mikeysline is actually available to everybody in the Highlands through our textmail services seven evenings a week. There is always support that people can access - it’s just being aware of that and not go through this on your own and let it become a bigger issue for you that’s affecting the whole way you feel about yourself.

"Anonymity is also what makes it potentially so dangerous, as people feel that they won’t be made accountable for their behaviour.

"I think there is a lot that still needs to be done in relation to the companies that run the social media platforms, from anything from spreading fake news to the harassment and abuse that’s allowed to be done through commenst and trolling.

"There needs to be wider action which is about how people can actually do this in the first place, as in hiding behind anonymous accounts and saying whatever they want and that is just as wrong.

If anyone you know seeks out for help, listening and supporting can be crucial.

"It takes a lot of courage for people to come out and ask for help," said Ms Stokes. "If someone reaches out, it's really important that you are supportive of them and help them get the support they need – although the responsibility is not on you, this is one of the biggest things yo can do."

Watch the full interview below:

You can get in touch with Mikeysline by texting 07786 20 77 55, on their website at mikeysline.co.uk or across their social media platforms.

More stories from our campaign:

WATCH: Public figures speak out on their experience of online harassment

WATCH: Highland MSP candidates on online abuse faced by women in politics

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