Self-Esteem Research and Development

innovationsThe self-esteem research and development facets of Embrace Health have woven an innovative tapestry of data, strategies and practice focuses. Embrace Health has been formulating this for over 10 years. Documentation and statistics are available upon request.

Self-esteem reveals advancements in suicide prevention treatments and focuses for anorexia and bulimia. Advancing research to find correlations and data that can enhance and sustain a healthier life for Canadians. Healthcare advancements in personal and social accountability being developed.

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What is the role of self-esteem in bullying?

EmbraceHealthFoundation first launched in 2008 in response to an identified lack of advocacy and support to address the issue of bullying in Canada. Following initial research, we were able to determine that self-esteem is a major factor in bullying victimization. This finding inspired the beginning of Embrace Health Self-Esteem Research and Development and its mission to better understand self-esteem and the impact it has on mental health, wellness, and bullying.

A key component of this initiative was the development of the Embrace Health Self-Esteem Assessment Tool which measures self-esteem in children and youth. The tool focuses on relevant factors that affect children and youth in their everyday lives, such as self-perception, physical self, emotional and mental health, home environment and supports and general wellbeing. Data was obtained through objective and subjective methods, such as surveys and interviews; with research collected from over 12,000 children and youth in ten provinces over the last 10 years. Based on four comparative surveys completed in 2009, 2012, 2016, and 2018, we are now able to report some concerning trends.

Altered self-perception is defined as a feeling, a perception, or an experience about one’s self that may not be accurate and may be heavily influenced by other stimuli such as peers, norms, relationships and trends. A survey of 1,000 students aged 16 to 18 showed an increase in the percentage of students with altered self-perception over the years: in 2009, 64 per cent revealed significant alterations in self-perception; by 2018, the figure was 82 per cent. Altered self-perception, along with relevant factors such as peer pressure, societal norms, relationships and the continual stress that many children and youth are exposed to on a daily basis, may lead to increased anxiety, depression, the risk of self-harm, social isolation, violent and aggressive behaviours, bullying and a variety of other physical and mental health issues.

Similarly, Embrace Health Foundation found that there has been an increase in the impact of peer pressure and societal norms affecting how children and youth feel about themselves. In 2009, 70 per cent of children and youth experienced significant impact from negative stimuli resulting from peer pressure and societal norms. By 2018, it had increased to 78 per cent. Overall, these children and youth struggle to develop their own individuality and feel constant pressure to conform to societal norms which negatively impacts their self-perception and self-esteem.

The Self-Esteem Assessment Tool also found that there is not enough support for children and youth experiencing these conditions and related bullying. A variety of data revealed that although many of the children and youth came from supportive homes, the topic of bullying is not well-discussed. In 2009, 44 per cent of children aged 8 to12 reported having poor home communication and support, which jumped to 58 per cent by 2018. This data was consistant with the findings that children and youth expressed feeling embarrassed or unable to discuss these issues and reported feeling unsupported.

The implications for those affected by bullying include the risk of a lifelong battle with low self-esteem and self-doubt, which could lead to anxiety, depression, and even suicide. Those who have been bullied experience social isolation, may be isolated from society, and face difficulty reaching goals and achieving developmental milestones. More work is needed to address Canada’s relatively high and persistent rate of bullying and to significantly reduce root causes such as low self-esteem. While there are individuals and organizations advocating for awareness, there is more work to be done. Only by working together can we create change.