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Childhood bullying victimization, self-labelling, and help-seeking for mental health problems

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Nathalie Oexle, Wagner Ribeiro, Helen L. Fisher, Petra C. Gronholm, Kristin R. Laurens, Pedro Pan, Shanise Owens, Renee Romeo, Nicolas Rüsch, Sara Evans-Lacko

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-88
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Volume55
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jul 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

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Abstract

Purpose

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.

Methods

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

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

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