Guarding Our Well-Being: The Emotional Impact of Cyberbullying and Identity Theft

This week—May 6-12—is Mental Health Week in Canada. With the ever-growing dependency on our devices, it is important to acknowledge the potential mental health impacts caused by digital threats including cyberbullying and identity theft. In today's world, online harassment and identity theft have become alarmingly common. Whether you’re directly impacted or you experience the fear of a potential attack, these online crimes have significant negative influence on our everyday wellbeing. Both cyberbullying and identity theft can inflict deep psychological wounds that can have lasting effects on individuals and organizations who experience them. UBC IT knows that it is crucial to talk about these dangers, along with how to protect ourselves and what resources are available for those who experience digital crimes.  


The intentional and persistent harassment of people via digital platforms is known as cyberbullying, and it is especially common among young people. 93% of victims of cyberbullying say they have suffered detrimental effects on their mental health, including anxiety, low self-esteem, depressive and hopeless feelings (Newport Academy, 2023).  Compared to people who haven't encountered cyberbullying, these victims are four times more likely to self-harm or entertain suicidal thoughts. This affects not just their mental health but also their capacity to learn and feel secure at school.  

Identity Theft 

Another significant problem in the digital sphere is identity theft. Identity theft is defined as a severe offense where a fraudulent individual assumes your name, driver's license, or Social Insurance number which allows them access to your personal information with the intent to commit fraud. Victims of identity theft feel violated and exposed. The psychological cost is comparable to the trauma experienced when one's personal property is taken, such as a physical wallet or purse. Common mental health effects include anxiety, despair, paranoia and a loss of trust, which are exacerbated by the overwhelming difficulty of finding a solution. The process of resolving identity theft can be exhausting, leaving many feeling helpless and unable to regain a full sense of security.  

"We need to shine a bright, hot light on this issue, have more conversations about it and encourage the people that are experiencing this to not only talk about it with the people that they trust and even therapists. Seek out mental health counseling," urges Eva Velasquez, president and CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center (Cross, 2024).  

What Can Be Done? 

Tackling these growing problems requires us to prioritize mental health and foster awareness and collaboration for a safer online environment, especially for the most vulnerable.   

Everyone can enjoy a safer and more compassionate online environment if we continue to collaboratively raise awareness, provide resources for affected individuals, and put preventive controls and measures in place.  

If you suspect your child is experiencing cyberbullying, educating yourself about the dynamics can empower you to better support your loved ones. Learn more about it in the article titled Understand Cyberbullying. Curious about the warning signs of identity theft? Explore another insightful article on Privacy Matters @UBC titled Identity Theft: Protect Yourself

For those navigating these challenges, valuable mental health and wellness resources are readily available through UBC. Visit Supporting colleagues and faculty in distress and mental health resources to learn more. 

You can also find valuable information and guidance on cyberbullying prevention from the Canadian Government's website dedicated to the issue, as well as tips on protecting yourself from identity theft from sources such as the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.  

Stay safe and well by keeping informed.  


  1. Financial and psychological effects of identity theft. (n.d.). 
  2. Landstedt E, Persson S. Bullying, cyberbullying, and mental health in young people. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. 2014;42(4):393-399. doi:10.1177/1403494814525004  
  3. Staff, N. A. (2024, April 23). Cyberbullying: The mental health impact and how to help your teen.

Article written by Lili Sabirova.