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Does Mental Illness Cause Violent Behavior?

man struggles with signs of mental illness

There is a great deal of stigma associated with mental illness in our culture, in part because people with mental illnesses are often considered a danger to the public.  This stigma is further perpetuated by the media which tends to highlight the possibility of mental illness when attempting to explain violent behavior such as mass shootings.  While it may be true that some perpetrators of violent crimes are mentally ill, plenty of violence is committed by people without diagnosable psychological conditions. The exaggerative bias of the media, coupled with a general lack of education on mental illness, contributes to discrimination against those with psychiatric illnesses and even puts them at risk of violence themselves. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, people with mental health conditions are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence.  This is due to several factors, including common symptoms of mental illness such as disorganized thought and impulsivity. These behaviors can unintentionally lead someone with a mental illness to provoke individuals who are already prone to violence.  Becoming a victim of violence has been shown to worsen mental health for those already struggling with mental illness. Despite these statistics, discussions about violence and mental illness continue to focus on mentally ill perpetrators. One factor that may in fact contribute to violent behavior in those with a mental illness is substance abuse.  One study found that 31% of people living with a substance use disorder as well as a mental illness, also known as a dual diagnosis, were likely to have committed at least one act of violence in the past year.  This is compared to only 18% of those living with a mental illness who did not abuse substances. Additionally, many people who have experienced violence themselves go on to live with unresolved trauma and may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. 

If you or someone you love has developed an addiction, now is the time to reach out for help.  At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  The Arbor uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, and at The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 844-413-2690.