IntroductionRecentlycrime has been increasingly blamed on mental illness only, there are manyexamples of this on the news that blames crimes and criminal behavior on mentalillness such as Stephen paddock, the man who committed a mass shooting in LasVegas on October 1 2017, (Thomas, 2017) has been portrayed as a mentally illperson that committed a serious crime and the news justifies his crime due tohis mental illness just because they don’t know his actual motive behind thishorrific act. Mental health is determined as “state of well-being in whichevery individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normalstresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make acontribution to her or his community.” as stated by the World HealthOrganization (Mental health: a state of well-being, 2014). Mental illness isdefined as any Dysfunctional behavior that impacts the way a man or a womanconsiders thinks, feels, acts, as well as how they identify with others and tohis or her environment.(Goldberg, 2012). “Criminal behavior” isdefined as way in which a person acts which causes harm to people in Societyeither physically or mentally, damaging property and general violence towardsothers which is against societal norms and this behaviors are acts of breakingthe law which is set by the government to protect people in society (What isthe Definition of Criminal Behavior?, 2017).
Prisonsand jails are the new asylums as many serious mental illnesses have becomewidely spread in these facilities. According to the national alliance on mentalillness at least 400,000 prisoners suffer from some type of mental illnesscurrently in the US, to show the magnitude of this the amount of people withmental illness in prisons are more than the population of New Orleans orCleveland. Furthermore around 40% of People with mental illness in the US willbe incarcerated or jailed at least once in their life, stated by NAMI (Ford,2015). This percentage is incredibly high which show that there is some kind ofconnection between mental illness and criminal behaver but what kind ofconnection? Thepurpose of this paper is to see if criminal behavior is caused by mentalillness.
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The rest of this paper will be organized as follows: The first sectionis mental illness and violence, which answers are the mentally ill violent, thesecond section discusses mental illness and substance abuse and which one isthe actual contributor to violent behavior, the third section is mental illnessand the public which explains how the public portrays mentally ill people andthe final section discusses mental illness and available treatment for mentalill patients and how it could lead some violent behavior.Is there a link betweenmental health and criminal behavior? Mental illness and violence Many thinkthat people with mental illness are violent. This is due to how people withmental illness are portrayed in television platforms like TV series, movies,games and even the news often tell us over exaggerated, fake and highlystigmatizing stories.
There are manymovies that depict mental illnesses negatively, an example of this is the moviePsycho, Psycho is a horror movie that represents the mental disorder dissociativeidentity disorder (DID) in a negative way, as the character is a sociopath thatcommits severe crimes through violent behavior (boll, 2015).This movie portraysa person with DID to be a “psycho”. Other movie examples that depictsmental disorders negatively are The Visit, Black Swan and Silver LiningsPlaybook. Even though many people suffering frommental illness are more prone to violent behavior A small minority of them actually commit violent behavior, According to research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, even though lessthan five percent of violentbehavior is associated with mental illness in America the study found that about 4 out of 10 of news stories that were analyzed the research associate mental illness with violence. In theirinvestigation they analyzed media trends over the period of 20 years whichended in 2014.They studied 400 stories about mental illness from toplevel news outlets that have a large audience from US, and they found out that the most commontopic was violence which was about 55%throughout this study period, furthermore there has been an 18% increase in new stories connecting violence withmental illness in from 2005 to 2014 compared to 1% from new stories from 1994to 2005 (Benham,2016).This study highlights the stigma that the news createsabout mental illness. Many TV shows portray the people with amental illness as the villains or the criminal there has been many studies doneon how characters with mental illness are represented in this medium.
AliciaOostdyk reviewed studies to investigate the representation of mental Illness ontelevision and one of the studies in hisresearch analyzed four prim TV networks which are ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX and found that 33.9% of characters withmental illness are presented as violentwhich is noticeably higher than the US criminal rate which is 1.5%(Oostdyk,2005).As a result, this may affect the viewer’s opinions on mental Illness and itscauses. Furthermore from the mental health reporting fact sheet states that theconnection between violence and mental illness is encouraged by theentertainment and news media, personas on prime time TV that have mentalillnesses are depicted “as the most dangerous of all demographic groups:60 percent were shown to be involved in crime or violence”(Facts About MentalIllness and Violence). This significant amount can affect the average personwho watches TV few times a week and this would definitely affect the viewsopinion without them knowing. Mostmentally ill people are not violent, TV and entertainment platforms give awrong portrayal of mental illness to add a drama or horror effect to theirshow/movie however this gives the view a picture of how mental illness lookslike, and assume that it is true. Mental illness and substance abuse Substance abuse tends to be a major contributorto violence and criminal behavior in mentally ill patients, because people withsevere mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar who are violent are dependenton substances like alcohol and drugs.
For these patients alcohol and drugs areused to self-medicate their symptoms which helps them feel better in and is atemporary solution (Drugs & mental illness fact sheet, 2017). For example,patients who have schizophrenia take medication for hallucinations that causesdepression. The patients often smoke marijuana to deal with the depression.reported by The United States Department of Veterans Affairs more 2 out of 10 veterans who suffer frompost-traumatic stress disorder simultaneously have a substance abusedisorder(PTSD: National Center for PTSD,2011). When having a mental illness andself-medicating through drugs and alcohol it is highly possible to developsubstance abuse issues.
According to dualdiagnosis.org Self-medication is thelink between mental illness and substance abuse (The Connection Between MentalIllness and Substance Abuse). According to a study about the link betweenSchizophrenia substance abuse and violent crimes found that 72 % of patients withschizophrenia that were linked tosubstance abuse committed an offence ,whereas schizophrenia patients without substance abuse, the risk wassmall(Fazel,Långström,& Hjern, 2009).
This show that substance abuse whilehaving a mental illness plays a big part in violence, therefore for thesepatients the risk of committing a crime is very high. Furthermore a similar research was conducted aboutbipolar and substance abuse to violentbehavior had similar results to the previous study where the patients whosimultaneously abuse substances had ahigher risks of committing violent crime on the other hand risk of violence wasminute in patients who didn’t abuse substance like alcohol and drugs (Fazel,Lichtenstein and Grann , 2010).Thisshows that substance abuse is a common factor when it comes to mental illnessand violence, because different types ofmental disorders are negatively affectedbehaviorally when the patient abuses drugs and alcohol.
Thisconfirms that substances like alcohol and drugs have a huge negative effect onthe behavior of people with mental illness and people without it, just becauseit’s more likely for a person with a mental disorder to use drugs and alcoholfor self-medication and abuse it, which makes them more likely to commitviolent criminal acts. Mental illness and the public Many people assume that people with mentaldisorders are a threat to society, this is because there is not enoughawareness about mental illness therefore there is a stigma about it. There is ahuge public awareness on how to prevent and deal with physical Health problemssome examples of these diseases are cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity,and arthritis. Do to the high exposure of these physical illnesses many peoplein the public have a considerable amount of knowledge of treatments andservices available. For example Hypertension, there is a widespread knowledgeabout modifiable risk factors like being overweight or obese, increased stressand smoking (High blood pressure (hypertension), 2016),as well as ways toprevent it by living a healthy lifestyle for example exercising and eating abalanced diet, as well monitoring yourblood pressure and cutting back onsalt(McCoy,2016).
Also many people have the first aid skills to applyresuscitation in an emergency, and some would know the warning signs of astroke and know when need to call an ambulance. Comparing the knowledge that could befound about physical illnesses and mental illnesses there is a huge gap. Eventhough mental illnesses are widespread and is very common, it is ignored andthere is a strong social stigma attached to mental health. Which combined withthe media influence creates a stigma about mental illness, as a result peoplehave a negative connotation with mental illness. A study on American attitudeson mental health from 1950 to 1996, most Americans describe the mentally ill asviolent and dangerous (Facts About Mental Illness and Violence). Moreover anarticle from the Huffington Post about the public attitudes towards mentalillness state that a large amount of people feel uncomfortable working with aperson with mental illness similarly parents do not want to have a person withmental illness working in their child’s school (Weldon, 2015).
The public’sperception of people with mental illness is incorrect, and the lack ofinformation provided about mental illness causes a huge stigmatization anddiscrimination towards people with mental illness, because the majority of thepublic think that people with mental illness are violent and this affects themin their day-to-day life as they cannot get jobs, good housing and are notincluded in main stream society. This discrimination can worsen the conditionand cause them to commit suicide. Mentalillness and available treatment Government figures tend to neglect mentalhealth treatments, because it does not seem worthy or important as other healthproblems like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and obesity toinclude mental health treatment in the state budget for treatment, even thoughmental health is just as important. Very often people with mental illnesses donot get the care they need at all. According to an article talking about theneglect of mental health System says that Robert Glover who is the Director ofthe National Association of State Mental Health Program Said from 2009 to 2012,there was a cut of $5 billion in health resources, in this time 4,500 publicpsychiatric hospital beds were removed from hospitals (Szabo, 2013).
More overthe cost of mental health treatment is very expensive and it is very difficultfor a person with mental health to get the needed treatment. People with mental health disabilities have a difficultysustaining a job yet mental illnesses does not qualify as a form of disability,so their insurance company does not cover mental illness therefore they have topay for their treatment themselves(TheNeglect of Mental Illness Exacts a Huge Toll, Human and Economic, 2012)(20).And to further show how mental healthtreatment is unaffordable, results on mental health findings from the NationalSurvey on Drug Use and Health found that among the 5 .4 million adults suffering from a mental disease and did not get any treatment, 45.7% saidthat they could not afford the cost ofcare(Rockville,2013). This shows that mental health treatment is very importantand should be affordable for people of all classes because mental healthillnesses affect people from all classes.
The government’sneglect of mental health treatment has a negative effect due to the reductionof mental health facilities which does more harm than good because it causes moreand more mentally ill patients to develop violent and criminal behavior inorder to afford the payment for their treatment.Conclusion The research paper shows that mental illness isnot a direct cause of criminal behavior. Mentally ill people havebeen portrayed negatively in media platforms and are associated withviolence which stigmatizes mental illness however mental illness does notcourse violence. Moreover substance abuse is a major attributer to violence andcriminal behavior in mental ill patients because it affects them in an adverseway. Furthermore the lack of public awareness about mental illness gives aninaccurate generalizations about the mentally ill which makes the mentally illfeel left out is they are miss treated because of this generalization.
Finallythe lack of availability of mental health treatments and institutionsnegatively affect the mentally sick by making them develop criminal behaviorto get there treatment. One possible field for furtherresearch would be to investigate the relationships that people with mentalillness have and social exchanges that lead up the violence.(SE,JW,WS,M and M,1998).