Renfrewshire Council

If you think that someone is being psychologically harmed, call 0300 300 1199 now. 

For non-emergencies, refer yourself or someone you know to the Adult Services Team using our online form.

Psychological harm

Psychological harm is one of the most common types of abuse reported by people. It usually can involve a person making threats about someone or something that matters to the person.

An example could be threats to stop an older person seeing their grandchildren or threats to stop visiting the older person if they live in a care home.

It is rare for someone to suffer psychological harm on its own. It can be linked to other forms of harm.

Blackmail, coercion or intimidation are forms of psychological harm and these can be crimes. 

Psychological harm can also include name calling and harassment. Name calling and constant criticism can go on for a long time and can be very damaging. If  the bullying isn't stopped early on, it can get worse and develop into more serious attacks.

Psychological harm can have a serious impact on a person's mental health. They can feel trapped, threatened, humiliated, used or a combination of all of these. Most of the signs that someone is suffering psychological harm relate to their mental state and changes in behaviour.

The signs to look out for are:

  • Hesitation to talk in front of other people
  • Stories which don't add up or make sense
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Being angry without any apparent cause
  • Sudden change in behaviour
  • Being upset or agitated
  • Unusual behaviour (sucking, biting, or rocking)
  • Unexplained fear
  • Denial of a situation
  • Being withdrawn and not communicating or responding
  • A person telling you they are being verbally or emotionally harmed