By Katherine Matiko, Communications Coordinator, Catholic Family Service

Workplace bullying is all too common and it can be devastating.

According to the Canada Safety Council, one person in six has been bullied in the workplace and one in five has witnessed a co-worker being bullied.1

“I was called stupid. I was yelled at in front of my juniors,” Felicity, one of our counselling clients (not her real name), told us. “The demands on my time and talents were unreasonable and ridiculous. My boss had me doing the work of three or four people.”

By the time Felicity entered our Affordable Counselling program last year, she was suffering from severe anxiety. “My boss told me that he was pushing me to find out how far he could push before I snapped. And then it happened – I snapped,” she said.

“Now, I can barely function. Most days, I can’t get out of bed. I don’t sleep. I have nightmares about him. I want to get better, but I’m scared to leave my house. The doctors and mental health professionals tell me I have post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Hugh McGeary, Catholic Family Service’s Managing Director of Counselling Services, says there are ways to survive the experience of workplace bullying.

  1. Name the behaviour as bullying.
  2. Self-define your own unwillingness to be a victim.
  3. Call bullying when you see others being victims.
  4. Pay attention to what your workplace costs you. Ensure you aren’t putting yourself at risk by staying in a toxic and unhealthy workplace.

“The cost may not be immediately obvious,” Hugh said. “It can sneak up on you just as the bully’s behaviour often escalates over time. Don’t wait till you are so depleted that you swim in self-doubt and lose your perspective about what’s right and what’s healthy.”

With the help of her counsellor, Felicity is slowly mending. “Thanks to Catholic Family Service, I will get my life back. I will survive and you can too. My advice is to nip abuse in the bud, before it incapacitates you. No job is worth your mental or physical health.”

1 Alberta Government tip sheet: Bullies at Work: What to Know, What You Can Do

If you are experiencing the effects of a toxic workplace, our counselling team can help. And like Felicity, you will be asked to pay what you feel you can afford. Read more here: Affordable Counselling Program.