Five Ways Sexual Harassment Can Impact Long Term Mental Health

Five Ways Sexual Harassment Can Impact Long Term Mental Health

Despite ever-tightening laws and increasing compliance monitoring, sexual harassment remains a huge problem in workplaces across Australia and the world. On top of the obvious distress and emotional issues it can cause, it’s possible for someone to suffer from long-term mental health problems due to harassment.

Because of this, it’s important to have your employer or employment lawyers get on top of any issues as soon as possible. In this article, we’ve explored five common illnesses that can rear their ugly heads as a result of ongoing workplace sexual harassment. But before we get into it, remember that harassment isn’t something that’s confined to women – men can be sexually abused as well.


First on our list is depression, one of the most common mental illnesses in the world. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most damaging, with severe depression effectively disabling a person.

Sexual harassment can lead to depression, but the effects aren’t always obvious immediately. In fact, recent studies suggest that it can manifest as long as five to ten years after the initial issue took place.


Sexual harassment can be a very traumatic experience, so it’s logical that it’s a common cause of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With this disorder, people often relive the trauma in their minds, which can significantly impact health and wellbeing.

At the same time, they may actively avoid people or situations that are reminiscent of the harassment that occurred. As you can imagine, this can impact future mental health, as well as future employment prospects.


Like most forms of bullying and discrimination, sexual harassment in the workplace has been linked to insomnia and other sleep problems. People who have experienced harassment often experience elevated stress and anxiety, which naturally have negative effects on sleep. Even if you feel like you’re still getting enough sleep, its quality may not be the same as it otherwise would be.

Suicidal Thoughts

One of the major problems associated with long-term sexual harassment is lower self-worth and depleted self-confidence. Because of this, it is also associated with suicidal thoughts and an increased risk of suicide itself.

Remember, suicide is never the answer. If you’re suffering from suicidal thoughts or are considering ending your life, be sure to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Physical Health Problems

Along with the obvious mental health problems, ongoing sexual harassment can also lead to a range of negative physical health effects. As we’ve already noted, harassment can cause elevated stress levels, which, in turn, often expresses itself as physical aches and pains. Neck and back pain are common, as are headaches.

Final Word

Sexual harassment is a huge problem in the Australia workforce, and it’s something that needs to be dealt with as soon as it’s identified. Otherwise, a huge range of mental health problems can arise, including depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and insomnia. These can also lead to numerous physical health issues, including regular aches and pains.

If you, or anyone you know, is or has been a victim of sexual harassment, be sure to take action. Seek medical help if your health is suffering, and be sure to get legal advice if you can’t resolve the problem.