For my photography class I did series of self-portraits in which I attempted to portray culture and counterculture for the past 10 decades. This is the product of that idea…
this is SO COOL oh man
music is my obsession
La Vie En Rose - Edith Piaf Cover
Recent media coverage of shootings in the United States have implied that mental health problems cause violent behavior, despite overwhelming evidence of the contrary. Here are three important pieces of that evidence and some reasons why the relationship between violence and mental health problems should be revisited.
Columbine High School, the Aurora Movie Theater, Sandy Hook, and most recently Fort Hood are a few of the sites of the most widely-covered and tragic shootings in recent American history. Another thing they have in common is that the shooters were persons apparently suffering from mental health problems. A lot of the national dialogue they prompted in the media and elsewhere revolved around the causes of, and policy responses to, mass shootings perpetrated by mental health problem sufferers. For instance, researchers analyzed a random 25% of news stories on mental health problems and gun violence from 1997 to 2012 in national and regional news sources. Most of this coverage happened after mass shootings and described them as the results of “dangerous people” rather than “dangerous weapons”. As would be expected, it’s been shown that framing mental health problems as one cause of gun violence and murder can lead the public to take on fearful, hateful, and ultimately stigmatizing attitudes towards persons suffering from mental health problems.
The problem with this kind of conversation on mental health problems and violence is that key facts are often overlooked or discounted:
1. “Mental health problems are common in the United States and internationally” (National Institute of Mental Health, 2007)
In 2007, the National Institute of Mental Health, which is the largest scientific organization in the world dedicated to the research of mental health problems, released a document called The Numbers Count: Mental health problems in America. In this census study, they show that mental health problems are “common” in the United States, where over one in four people ages 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. This translates to 57.7 million people, and mental health problems are the leading cause of disability in the United States and Canada. Also, many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time and almost half of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for two or more mental disorders. The fact that this many people suffer from mental health problems makes it clear that having had a diagnosed illness is simply not a good predictor of violent behavior.
2. “The vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses” (American Psychiatric Association, 1994)
Recent studies like this one and this one have shown not only that most people with mental health problems do not commit more violent acts than the rest of the population, but that most violent acts are not committed by people with diagnosed mental health problems. The fact is that the absolute risk of violence among this population as a group is very small and only a small proportion of the violence in the United States can be attributed to persons suffering from mental health problems. Despite the fact that sound empirical research has proven time and time again that the contribution of people with mental illnesses to overall rates of violence is small, the media continues to suggest otherwise. This has the effect of pushing this false relationship into the minds of the general public and of expanding its magnitude in the public discourse.
3. “People with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime” (Appleby, et al., 2001).
Contemporary research –some of which you can find HERE and HERE– shows that people with mental health problems not only commit less violent acts than the rest of the population, but that they are actually much more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence in the community. A recent study showed that in the past year, almost half of a large sample of individuals suffering from mental health problems and receiving outpatient treatment were victims of a violent offence. Another large-scale study examined this phenomenon and found that people diagnosed with Serious Mental Illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis, have been found to be 2 ½ times more likely to be attacked, raped or mugged than the rest of the population.
Many policy approaches (this one for example) have been proposed as a result of the recent tragic shootings in the United States. They range from expanding psychological screening to further limiting the rights of individuals suffering from mental health problems, to increasing the length of Assisted Outpatient Treatment, hospitalizations, and institutionalization. Because such a large number of Americans suffer from mental health problems and because mental health problems predispose their sufferers to becoming victims of violence rather than perpetrators of it, these policies are unlikely to be effective.
By implying a link between mental health problems and violent offenses, they also suggest that people who suffer from these problems should be feared and blamed in the wake of these recent tragedies. If this harmful trend continues, it is likely that the violence towards individuals suffering from mental health problems will increase, which could compromise their sense of safety and ultimately, their recovery.
For more mental health news, Click Here to access the Serious Mental Illness Blog
I Ain’t Got Nobody - Bessie Smith (1925)
Top Hat, White Tie and Tails (Irving Berlin, 1935) - Al Bowlly & the Freshmen feat. Ray Noble and his Orchestra
Put One Foot In Front of The Other
I love this song.
if anyone has a tough year ahead of them or behind them
this japanese fisherman will get you back on your feet, i can guarantee
I WON’T GIVE UP, JAPANESE FISHERMAN!!!
THIS IS ACTUALLY SURPRISINGLY INSPIRATIONAL, EVERYONE NEEDS A JAPANESE FISHERMAN TO YELL AT THEM SOMETIMES OKAY