Are mentally ill prone to commit violence or are they victims of violence? There is a strong perception that mentally ill people are violent and unpredictable but there is no definite evidence to link mentally ill individuals to the crimes that they commit. A research, published on Dec. 21, 2016, in the journal Psychological Medicine, has identified several factors associated with the eventual risk of mentally unwell adults causing or perpetrating violence thereby stressing the need to effectively treat mental health problems.
This study, conducted by the North Carolina State University, RTI International, Arizona State University and Duke University Medical Center, underlines exactly how important interventions are in treating mental health problems in order to reduce violence and mental health breakdown as well as in maintaining public safety. The work of the researchers, Richard Van Dorn, Sarah Desmarais and Matt Shipman, builds on another earlier study in 2013, which concluded that almost 33 percent adults who suffer from mental illnesses are susceptible to violence within a period of six months. According to Dorn, the two main questions that his study addressed were: “If someone is victimized, is he or she more likely to become violent? And if someone is violent, is he or she more likely to be victimized?”
Stress and depression exacerbate chances of violence
The researchers studied a sample size of 3,473 adults, all suffering from mental illness. The database extracted information from four earlier studies directed at antipsychotic medications and treatment approaches. Although the aim of the previous four studies was different, the questions about victimization and violence were the same.
The researchers first assessed each subject’s history of violence and mental health to begin with and then tracked the data for each for a period of three years. The participants were also evaluated on the basis of cause and effect relationship between several factors like psychological symptoms of mental illness, substance use, homelessness, inpatient mental-health treatment, and whether they were victims or perpetrators of violence. Desmarais said that the research discovered that all these indicators were important though in different ways. They found that a person addicted to drugs is more likely to commit violence than being a victim.
The study also underlined how one act of violence could have a domino effect, such as in the case of a person, who suffered an onslaught that led to poor mental health and homelessness, can potentially turn into a perpetrator of violence. Further, they found that the more affective symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, were pronounced in a subject, the more were they likely to both commit violence or become a victim.
Mental health illness requires comprehensive approach to treatment
The importance of this study lies in the fact that the results show that there is a need to evaluate how adults with mental illness should be treated and this can be used to actively reduce violence in communities. An increase in mental health treatment programs, greater accessibility of mental health facilities at convenient locations and removing stigmatization can significantly reduce mishaps. Without treatment, the complications and adverse effects of mental illness can cause long-term damage to a person’s mental and physical health. These conditions do not disappear over time and it is wise to seek professional help.
There are numerous mental health centers in California that help people battle such afflictions. If a family member or friend has a mental illness, you can seek advice from the California Mental Health Helpline experts. To find out more about state-of-the-art mental health facilities in California, call 855-559-3923, our 24×7 helpline number for help, or chat online with our experts.