Public Policy Statement

MENTAL HEALTH AND VIOLENCE

Whenever a horrific act of violence occurs in the U.S. such as at Pulse Night Club in Orlando, San Bernardino, or Sandy Hook, the general public thinks that the perpetrator of such acts “must be crazy”; thus adding to the stigma and discrimination felt by any individual who has a mental illness.  In an effort to promote truths about mental health and violence, the following serves as information:

  • Only about 4% of overall violence in the United States can be attributed to those with mental illness.
  • Mass killings (when 4 or more people are killed at once) are very rare occurrences. In 2012, they accounted for only about 0.15 % of all homicides in the United States.
  • Databases that track United States gun homicides find that only 3% to 5% of U. S. crimes involve shooters who have a mental health problem.
  • It is very hard to predict who will commit a violent act. The best predictor of violence is a past history of violence or presence of alcohol or drugs during moments of conflict.
  • In the situations where a person has a mental illness and may be violent, the person is often not receiving mental health treatment. Therefore, MHA advocates for services that are accessible and available to all.  MHA advocates for the development of Safety Plans and WRAP as integral parts of qualify of care.
  • MHA advocates for education in reducing the access to lethal means in efforts to prevent suicides and acts of violence.
  • In the United States, violence is promoted as a solution to problems. MHA supports all efforts to decrease violence, oppression and discrimination, especially concerning people with mental illness.
  • People with serious mental illness(es) are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crimes than the general population.
  • Effects of war can impact an individual’s mental health. MHA advocates accessible, available and effective services to all military personnel and their families.

Mental health and physical health should not be separated as each impacts the other.  For people with serious mental illness, life expectancy is 25 years shorter than the general population.  MHA promotes health care access for all.