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School moves linked to teenage psychosis

Press Association logoPress Association 18/05/2016

Frequent school moves might hurt your kids' mental health © Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket/Getty Images Frequent school moves might hurt your kids' mental health

Children who frequently movebetween schools are more likely to show psychotic symptoms when they are teenagers, new research suggests.

Even moving around schools as a young child could have a detrimental effect, the study found.

Researchers said that doctors and teachers should be aware that "school mobility" is an important risk factor for psychopathology.

Experts from the University of Warwick found that children who had moved schools repeatedly had over a two-fold increased odds of developing at least one psychotic symptom by 18 years of age - compared to those who experience fewer school moves.

They warned that psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and confused or disturbed thoughts can be a precursor to psychotic disorders.

The study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, examined 4000 18-year-olds.

Of the 185 who had experienced four or more school moves, almost 10 per cent developed at least one psychotic symptom in the past six months, compared to four per cent of children who had not moved schools repeatedly.

"The study findings suggest that school moves in particular are harmful and may increase feelings of isolation and stress in those who have already experienced social exclusion," said lead author Professor Swaran Singh.

"School moves may also indicate other underlying problems, such as family breakdown, which may further contribute to an increased risk of psychosis."

Co-author Dr Catherine Winsper added: "Although school mobility appears to be a strong risk factor for psychotic symptoms in early and late adolescence, the majority of children who experience repeated school moves will not develop psychosis."

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