Previous research found sustained high levels of mental health service use among adults who experienced bullying victimization during childhood. This could be due to increased psychopathology among this group, but other factors, such as self-perception as having a mental health problem, might contribute to increased service use. Additionally, the relationship between informal help-seeking for mental health problems and bullying victimization is incompletely understood.
The present study examined associations between the frequency of bullying victimization and both formal service use and informal help-seeking for mental health problems independent from psychopathology. Data on bullying victimization, service use, informal help-seeking for mental health problems, psychopathology, and self-labelling as a person with mental illness were collected among 422 young people aged 13–22 years
In logistic regression models, controlling for past and current psychopathology and using no bullying victimization as the reference category, we identified a greater likelihood of mental health service use among persons who experienced frequent bullying victimization, as well as a greater likelihood of seeking informal help among persons who experienced occasional victimization. Increased self-identification as a person with mental illness completely mediated the positive association between frequent bullying victimization and mental health service use.
Our findings suggest that services to support persons who experienced frequent bullying victimization should focus on improving empowerment and self-perception. Additionally, there might be unserved need for formal support among those who experienced occasional bullying victimization.
- Bullying victimisation
- Mental health problems
- Service use