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If you were ever bullied as a child then it could be affecting your health right now, as new research reveals that the consequences of childhood bullying can be felt into adulthood when it comes to mental health.
The study by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and King’s College London, tracked mental health service use among more than 9000 people over a 40-year-period.
The findings, published in Psychological Medicine, show 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.
It also found more boys than girls use mental health services in childhood and adolescence, whereas more women than men use mental health services in adulthood.
It shows that 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.
The researchers say that early intervention to prevent childhood bullying is necessary to limit both individual distress and save thousands of pounds in healthcare over the course of a person’s life.
Lead researcher Dr Sara Evans-Lacko, an Associate Professorial Research Fellow from LSE’s Personal Social Services Research Unit, said: “The impact of childhood bullying on mental health services is most notable at an early age, but the association remains significant at 50.”
“Individuals who were frequently bulled during childhood were more than twice as likely to use mental health services during childhood or adolescence and even at age 50, they were still 30% more likely to use mental health services compared to those who were not bullied.
“Half the adult population with a psychiatric disorder already show signs of poor mental health by the age of 15. If unnoticed or untreated, early onset of mental health problems could be the starting point of persistent disorders known to be associated with bullying, including depression and anxiety, self-harm and psychotic disorders.”
She continued: “Bullying may also set the conditions for a cycle in which people are at risk of exposure to further victimisation in later life.Other outcomes associated with childhood bullying include relationship breakdowns and low employment.”