Being bullied in childhood is associated with greater internalizing, externalizing, and total mental health problems in late adolescence — an effect partially mediated by interpersonal distrust during middle adolescence, new research suggested.
- Researchers drew on a Social Safety Theory (SST) model, positing that socially threatening experiences, such as bullying, degrade mental health at least in part by fostering the belief that others cannot be trusted.
- The study included 10,000 youth in United Kingdom’s longitudinal Millennium Cohort Study with analysis of data collected at ages 11, 14, and 17 years.
- The primary outcome was the total score obtained from 20 items on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) completed by participants at the age of 17 years; findings of the SDQ were categorized into internalizing and externalizing problems.
- Being bullied during childhood was a strong predictor of worse overall mental health in late adolescence, including internalizing, externalizing, and total mental health problems — a temporal effect mediated by interpersonal distrust at the age of 14 years.
- Adolescents who developed greater distrust were roughly 3.5 times more likely to subsequently experience clinically significant mental health problems than those who developed less distrust.
- The association between interpersonal distrust and mental health problems was the strongest direct effect and even stronger than the direct association between bullying and total mental health difficulties (both P
- Male adolescents appeared to have been less affected than females, experiencing fewer emotional and peer-related issues than their female counterparts (P
“Individual and school-based interventions aimed at reducing the negative impact of bullying on mental health may…benefit from bolstering youths’ sense of trust in others,” the authors wrote. “This finding can thus inform interventions for bullying, which so far have lacked evidence on the intervention components that could be used to reduce socioemotional problems.”
George Slavich, PhD, professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, was the senior and corresponding author on the study. It was published online on February 13, 2024, in Nature Mental Health.
Analyses were restricted to three available time points (age: 11, 14, and 17 years), thus they lacked more granular temporal information. Moreover, the mental health difficulties assessed at age 17 were self-reported rather than being based on independent clinical evaluation. Bullying was assessed through participants’ overall experiences without further identifying exactly what those experiences of bullying entailed.
Study funding was not disclosed, and the authors declared no relevant financial relationships.
Source link : https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/distrust-poor-mental-health-teens-bullied-children-2024a10003mq?src=rss
Publish date : 2024-02-23 12:25:42
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