Media Release: Crime victimisation and mental health

Release date: Monday 16 June, 2014 Embargo: 10.30am

Full report: Understanding the relationship between crime victimisation and mental health: A longitudinal analysis of population data - pdf 813Kb Appendix- pdf 660Kb

A new study by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research provides compelling evidence that being a victim of violent crime has a damaging effect on mental health, particularly for women.

The Bureau used data from a national survey, conducted over ten years to find out what happens to the mental health of men and women who experience violence or property crime.

The study used data drawn from 16,187 persons aged 15 years or older who participated in at least two waves of the Household Income and Labour Dynamics (HILDA)survey between 2002 and 2011.

The analysis included a wide range of controls for factors other than crime victimisation that might have affected the mental health of victims.

These included, mental health pre-victimisation, general health, partner status, area of residence, labour force status, financial prosperity, alcohol consumption, smoking status, physical activity, social networks and adverse life events.

The central question addressed by the study was whether becoming a victim of property or violent crime in a given year had measurable effects on mental health in subsequent years. .The mental health subscale of the Medical Outcome Short Form (36-item) Health Survey (SF-36) was used to assess mental health.

The analysis revealed that becoming a victim of violent crime results in a decrease in mental health. Females had a more pronounced decline in mental health after becoming a victim of violence than did males.

There was no evidence that becoming a victim of property crime had a detectable impact on mental health for females or males in subsequent years.

While being a victim of property crime may cause immediate distress, it appears that the effect on mental health is not as severe or persistent as that of violence crime.

The findings provide support for the provision of psychological support services to victims of violent crime.

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190

Copies of the report: