Rates of crime victimisation in young people seeking help for mental health problems

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Individuals who experience mental ill-heath are significantly more likely to be victims of violent and non-violent crime compared to the general population. The key risk factors for crime victimisation in adults with long-standing forms of mental ill-health (including schizophrenia) are substance misuse, unemployment and homelessness. There is little understanding however of the rates and risk factors for crime victimisation in young people with mental health problems. We examined the rates of self-reported crime victimisation in a large cohort study (n=802) of young people aged 12-25 years who were seeking help for mental health problems in Australia. Overall, a quarter of the sample (24.5%; n=190) reported having been the victim of a crime, with 18.4% (n=143) subjected to a violent form of victimisation (e.g. a physical or sexual assault) and 13.9% to non-violent offences (e.g. theft, robbery). Childhood physical or sexual assault occurred in 6.3% (n=48). The rates of violent victimisation did not differ according to gender, however young adult participants (20-25 years) were significantly more likely to have experienced physical or sexual assaults (28.2%) compared to young adolescents aged 12-15 years (6.8%). Multivariate analyses indicate that a range of variables are associated with both general and violent crime victimisation in this population. That approximately 1 in 4 young people seeking help for mental health problems have been victims of crime, including almost 1 in 5 who have suffered violent victimisation, is a sobering finding and warrants further research into the impacts of crime on already psychologically vulnerable people, as well as interventions to prevent or at least minimize such victimisation, especially since the majority of offending occurs more proximal to when young people are seeking help (e.g. rather than in childhood).

Poster First Author: 
Rosemary Purcell
Conference Presented At: 
IAYMH 2015
Poster Date: 
October, 2015
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