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The Truth About Mental Illness & Violence

Truth-100135697It is a fact that the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent.  However, when we hear about school shootings or senseless murders, mental illness is oftentimes a contributing factor.

So what’s the truth?

The truth is that there are a number of inaccurate beliefs about mental illness and violence.  This leads to widespread stigma and discrimination against the mentally ill.  In addition, the link between mental illness and violence is exaggerated and promoted by the entertainment industry and news media.

The result? 

The public is misinformed about the link between mental illness and violence.

Here is what researchers say:

  • “Although studies suggest a link between mental illnesses and violence, the contribution of people with mental illnesses to overall rates of violence is small, and further, the magnitude of the relationship is greatly exaggerated in the minds of the general population (Institute of Medicine, 2006).”
  • “People with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime (Appleby, et al., 2001). People with severe mental illnesses, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis, are 2 ½ times more likely to be attacked, raped or mugged than the general population (Hiday, et al.,1999).”

An article recently featured in the Wall Street Journal sheds some light on a little talked about issue – getting help for the families of people who are both mentally ill and violent.

The article, Families of Violent Patients: ‘We’re Locked Out’ of Care, touches upon crucial problems of today’s system in getting people necessary care.  It also reveals what is being done to help those who are mentally ill and violent as well as supporting their families.

At Horizon Health Services, we provide support for people and their families when seeking help for mental illness.  Mental illness is not a problem that will go away on its own.  Our team of dedicated staff can help you achieve a fulfilling life.

Sources used to write this article:
University at Washington School of Social Work