A recent study conducted in Canada revealed a worrying trend. Accordingly, people with mental illnesses are more exposed to violence. Researchers hope that this new research would increase public awareness regarding this troubling situation. The study, carried out by Statistics Canada, revealed that those suffering from mental health-related conditions are twice more likely to become victims of violence than healthy people.
As the study’s report disclosed, out of the approximately one million Canadians over 15 years of age who have mental illnesses, about 40,000 were victims of violent robberies or assaults in 2017. Also, 7 percent of the women with mental health-related conditions suffered sexual assault during the last year, Statistics Canada reports.
Even more concerning is that only 22% of all those people who experienced violent assaults went to the police for help, while in healthy population 31% of the victims sought help from the authorities.
People With Mental Illnesses Are More Exposed To Violence, A New Study Shows
“We know that recent violence can increase people’s fearfulness, so they’re more likely to respond aggressively to police. It makes them feel less safe and more likely to have to defend themselves as well,” said Dr. Sandy Smith, the chief of forensic psychiatry at the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
“Is there a risk of violent behavior associated with mental illness? Yes, there is. But the rates of victimization are much higher,” Dr. Smith added.
According to the specialist, mental illnesses come with additional issues, including alcohol abuse or drug consumption. Statistics Canad revealed in this regard that about 15 percent of those suffering from a mental health-related condition used drugs, compared to six percent of the healthy population.
“High profile-cases of dangerous offenders that get extensively reported re-enforce and drive home that message. It’s an understandable distortion in the public mind,” Dr. Smith said. “People do get that these are treatable diseases. Violence can be a complication of an illness, and you can’t punish an illness,” he concluded.