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Mental Illness And Violence – Dispelling The Myths

Mental Illness And Violence – Dispelling The Myths

A person with a mental illness is more likely to have a violent act committed on them, that to commit a violent act themselves, says the Mental Health Commission.

In its recently released fact sheets, the Commission says that mental illness is not a highly significant contributor to violence in society and the risk of a crime being committed by someone with a mental disorder is very small.

“We can’t ignore that there is a very small link between mental illness and violence,” says Commission Chair Jan Dowland. “However, other factors such as drugs, alcohol, age and gender appear to be stronger contributing factors.”

Ms Dowland says that closing large-scale psychiatric institutions and caring for mentally ill people in the community has had no effect on homicide rates or rates of violent offending by those with a mental illness.

“We want to dispel the myth that mentally ill people are violent. It’s not true, and to continue to perpetuate the myth is very stigmatising for people with a mental illness. To say that society should be protected from them is very wrong,” says Ms Dowland.

“One in five people in New Zealand has a mental illness at some point in their lives, so most of us will be affected in some way by mental illness. Mental illness is common, and most people recover quickly and fully,” says Ms Dowland.

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