Friday, February 21, 2014

Switching Schools Associated with Increased Risk for Psychotic-Like Symptoms for Youth

Researchers report in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry that multiple school transfers may put young children at risk for developing psychotic-like symptoms during adolescence. Nearly 14,000 children were followed from age 2 to 9 to assess the mental impact of school and residential mobility. At age 12, the subjects were evaluated for psychosis-like symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, in addition to being interviewed about peer engagement complications, such as friendship difficulties and bullying involvement.

The analysis showed that relocating schools during childhood more than three times heightened the risk for developing psychotic-like symptoms in early adolescence by 60%. Being the victim of bullying was also found to be associated with school switching. “Changing schools can be very stressful for students. Our study found that the process of moving schools may itself increase the risk of psychotic symptoms—independent of other factors [such as race and family adversity], said Swaran Singh, M.D., coauthor and head of the Division of Mental Health and Wellbeing at Warwick Medical School in England.

The authors said that switching schools may lead to feelings of low self-esteem and a sense of social defeat. Because the impact of school mobility can be both serious and potentially long lasting, they suggested that psychiatrists should be aware of frequent school shifts when assessing youngsters who have psychotic disorders.

To read more about factors and symptoms of psychosis in children and adolescents, see the Psychiatric News article, "Diagnosing Psychosis in Children and Adolescents." For an in-depth review of mental illness in youth, see Concise Guide to Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Fourth Edition, from American Psychiatric Publishing.

(Image: luminaimages/


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