Our series on debunking mental health myths continues with a look at the
misleading connection between violence and mental illness. In fact mentally
ill people are more likely to be victims. Learn more about this from two
of our experts.
When news of a shocking incident such as a mass shooting first reaches
us on TV, it’s likely that we’ll hear the words “mental
illness” as the media speculates why it happened. But less than
5 percent of violence in the U.S. is caused by people with mental illnesses.
The truth is, a mentally ill person is more likely to be a victim of violence
– at four times the rate of the general public.
“The majority of individuals living with mental illness have productive
relationships and are described by others as loving and caring people,”
said Tamara Sheehan, director of psychiatry, Providence Sacred Heart Medical
Center & Children’s Hospital, in Spokane, Wash.
About one in five adults in America experiences a mental illness. When
people in this group are involved with violence, severe conditions such
as untreated psychosis or co-occurring drug or alcohol abuse are typically
contributing factors. That’s where our mental health resources,
from 24/7 triage phone lines to crisis intervention and recovery centers,
come into play.
Our commitment to awareness and prevention
Early identification, awareness and intervention are important. One unique example:
“In Southern California, we have partnered with the schools and community
to create an eight-week after-school program for teens and their families
identified as at-risk and in need,” said Marshall Moncrief, the
regional executive director of
St. Joseph Hoag Health’s Mental Health Institute. “Referred to as ASPIRE, the program
centers on skills and resiliency training for the teen and parents, helping
them better navigate current problems and avoid future crises.”
With the launch of the Providence St. Joseph Health Institute for Mental
Health and Wellness, we will work together to ease access to mental health
care and services for people in their time of need. This is important
to enhance the ability of our communities to identify family members and
friends who need immediate help. Learn more about how the institute will
ignite a movement around mental health on CEO and President
Rod Hochman's blog.
Resources for getting help
Call 911 if there is an urgent mental health crisis. There are also Providence
St. Joseph Health resources available if someone close to you is at risk.
Debunking Mental Health Myths - "You Can Just Snap Out of It"
Mental Health Myths and Facts: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/
National Alliance on Mental Illness: http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Public-Policy/Violence-and-Gun-Reporting-Laws