Mental health implications of being labelled a threat to society during adolescence among diverse groups

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Health Service and Population Research


he prevalence of mental health problems among adolescents in England
is 14% [1]. In adults, there are clear and unexplained differences in the
types of mental health problems experienced by white and black people;
for instance, rates of psychosis are higher among black people [2]. Among
young people, though, research suggests similarities in mental health
problems between black and white youths, despite, on average, higher
prevalence of risk factors among black adolescents [3]. Understanding
ethnic differences in the development of mental health problems during
adolescence and into adulthood is a key focus of REACH (Resilience,
Ethnicity and AdolesCent Mental Health), the research group I've been
working in for the last 2 years.
Negatively stigmatising people from an early age has adverse impacts
and we know this to be the case even if the label is unfounded. As an
example, from educational psychology, "teachers and parents are more
likely to perceive disabilities in and hold lower educational expectations for
labelled adolescents than for similarly achieving and behaving adolescents
not labelled with disabilities" [4]. My proposal is to produce is a novel
perspective on how the process of labelling young people as a potential
threat to society affects their mental health, and whether these effects
differ by ethnic groups and among migrants. The theoretical framework
behind labelling theory involves an individual receiving a label that they did
not choose for themselves and assumes that, although an outcome can
stem from other causes, once an individual has been defined as deviant,
problematic or dangerous "they face new problems that stem from the
reactions of self and others to negative stigma that are attached to that
label" [5, 6, 7]. There is a plethora of research in adults on the
criminogenic processes triggered by labelling [5] and, separately, the
stigma associated with mental health problems [8]. But there is very little
research, locally and globally, on the mental health implications of being
labelled a threat to society at an early age.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2297136 Studentship ES/P000703/1 30/09/2019 31/10/2023 Samantha Sian Ellaline Davis