Childhood bullying has a strong link to mental health service use throughout a person’s life, putting additional strain on an ‘already overstretched’ UK healthcare system, according to joint research by King’s College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
The study, which was published in the Psychological Medicine journal and tracked the mental health service use among more than 9000 people over a 40-year-period using data from the 1958 British Birth Cohort, shows that younger people who are bullied in their childhood are more likely to use mental health services long into adulthood, compared to those who weren’t bullied. Furthermore, more boys than girls use mental health services in childhood and adolescence, whereas more women than men use mental health services in adulthood.
Professor Louise Arseneault from King’s College London, said: “In recent years, research has accumulated strong evidence to show that being bullied can be harmful for children and that problems can persist for a long time, up to midlife. This is the first time we are able to show the impact of childhood bullying victimisation on the health care system in the UK.
“Beyond the individuals, bullying affects the wider systems and societies. Findings from our study add to other research supporting early intervention aimed at stopping bullying or preventing mental health problems in the young victims.”
Researchers advise that early intervention to prevent childhood bullying is necessary to limit both individual distresses as well as save the healthcare system thousands over the course of a person’s life.
Read the study’s abstract here