School mobility as a pathway to psychosis in young people

West MidlandsMental Health
Published Date: 1 Mar 2014

School mobility as a pathway to psychosis in young people


  • Psychotic-like symptoms (PLIKS) are commonly experienced in childhood and adulthood. PLIKS in childhood increase the risk of psychotic disorder in adulthood. 
  • Children who are residentially mobile are more likely to experience social adversity, such as financial problems and family dysfunction, which are risk factors for psychosis.  
  • We hypothesised that the stress of changing schools frequently in childhood may also increase the risk of psychotic-like symptoms. 
  • The aim of this study was to test whether changing schools increases the risk of psychotic-like symptoms in early adolescence, independently of other risk factors.


  • A community sample of 6,448 mothers and their children were assessed for psychosocial adversities (from birth - 2yrs), how often they moved house and changed school (up to 9yrs), incidences of peer difficulties such as bullying (up to 10yrs). The presence of psychotic -like symptoms (PLIKS) were then assessed at age 12.
  • School mobility (i.e. changing schools 3 or more times) was significantly associated with PLIKS, both directly and indirectly.
  • The association between school mobility and PLIKS was independent of other risk factors such as family problems and financial difficulty.
  • School mobility was also associated with increased risk of bullying, which is known to be a risk factor for development of psychotic like symptoms.
  • After adjustment for all other risk factors, changing schools led to an approximately 1.5 times increased risk, and being both a bully and victim of bullying, led to an approximately 2.5 times increased risk of PLIKS.