The three-way relationship between types of involvement in bullying (as victim, bully or bully-victim), number of friends and mental health status is not well understood. This research aimed to establish whether the mental health status of victims, bullies and bully-victims would fall disproportionately into the abnormal range of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ); to examine the associations between gender and mental health status according to involvement in bullying; and to investigate the association between the type of students' involvement in bullying, friendship status and mental health status. A sample of 1313 adolescents, aged 12-15 years, drawn from three South Australian secondary schools, completed the SDQ and the Peer Relations Questionnaire (PRQ). Participants involved in bullying, particularly bully-victims, were more likely to be screened as 'abnormal' on the SDQ. The likelihood of obtaining an abnormal SDQ score decreased with an increased number of good friends, particularly for bully-victims. Mental health difficulties experienced by victims, bullies and bully-victims varied by gender. Recommendations are made concerning tailoring mental health promotion and early interventions to prevent mental health difficulties to the specific needs of identified subgroups of students involved in bullying, and explicit teaching of strategies for promoting friendships, especially for victims.
- adolescent mental health