The ” mobbing ” or psychological harassment at work is a situation that occurs at work, in which an individual or several individuals, systematically and repeatedly (at least once a week) exercise psychological violence on another individual or individuals, during a prolonged period of time (at least 6 months).

This leads to the destruction of communication networks and the victim’s reputation, and causes the disruption of the victim’s work and demotivation at work.

Mobbing: psychological harassment at work

The actors of mobbing can be co-workers, superiors or subordinates, and this behaviour can affect workers in any type of organisation, including small and medium sized enterprises.

The characteristics of mobbing

The methodology used by the actors in charge of carrying out mobbing in the company can be varied. For example, the spreading of rumours to favour the marginalization of the victim (even outside work) and to make life difficult for him/her within the organization; or bullying and humiliation in front of other employees. Whatever behaviour is carried out, the result is psychological and emotional damage to the victim.

The victims are often the most creative, ethical and competent people in the work environment. These individuals suffer mobbing because the harasser may consider them a threat to his own position within the company. Supervisors can also be victims of mobbing. In these cases, subordinates act together to undermine you. Women, younger workers and older workers are at high risk of being mobbed. Mobbing is increasing in sectors such as services, health and education.

The psychological impact on victims of mobbing

Mobbing can have a devastating effect on the morale and performance of victims, and causes intense distress. The following are the consequences of mobbing for those who suffer from it:

  • Deterioration of self-esteem and self-confidence, both personally and at work
  • Guilt feelings
  • Insomnia
  • Hypervigilance
  • Fatigue
  • Personality changes
  • Concentration difficulties irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Recurring memories and dreams of traumatic events
  • Feeling of reliving the traumatic experience, hallucinations, flashbacks…
  • Intense discomfort when starting a new job
  • Reduced interest in daily, social or leisure activities
  • Feeling of detachment from others and restriction of emotions and affective life
  • Pessimism
  • Feelings of failure and frustration

Physical impact on victims of workplace bullying

Mobbing does not include collective physical harassment of the worker who is the victim. Instead, it focuses on disrupting his or her inner life. But the emotional toll is so great that it can have physical consequences, as it can cause stress , and therefore its physical symptoms. For example, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, hypertension, etc.

What to do in case of mobbing?

If you suffer from mobbing it is essential to take action as soon as possible , as the psychological damage may increase over time. Since mobbing is a phenomenon that takes place within the company, it is important to report it if the harasser continues to insist on causing harm. In the event of mobbing, not only legal but also psychological support is required.

First and foremost, it is necessary to inform the occupational risk prevention department or the superior so that they are aware of the case. If you are being harassed, this should be your first move.

Due to the complexity of these facts, support can be requested from trade union organizations, the company’s Health and Safety Committee, and the situation can be reported to the Labor Inspectorate as a step towards prosecution of the case.

Once these avenues have been exhausted, and if the mobbing continues to exist, then it will be necessary to denounce it . It is important to be clear that it is complicated to gather evidence for different reasons (there is no physical evidence, there is no written evidence or the colleagues do not commit themselves for fear of reprisals), but the report of the harassment is proven through any of the means admitted by law, be it confessions, documents, witnesses, experts, etc. Therefore, it will be necessary to gather documents, medical reports and look for witnesses.

Psychological support in cases of mobbing

Due to the psychological and emotional damage that the victim has suffered, on many occasions it is necessary to see a psychologist to recover well-being . Not any professional is accredited to carry out this problem, as it is necessary to go to a professional specialised in psychological and occupational health problems (not a doctor). That is, the symptoms should not be treated only (such as acting on anxiety or depression), but the phenomenon should be understood in its entirety.

It is common in this type of case to be misdiagnosed and end up using incorrect treatment strategies (for example, only treating stress or anxiety with drugs). This often happens when you go to your family doctor instead of an expert psychologist. Unfortunately, this is more common than people may think.