Mental illness is not the main source of violence.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – For many decades, mental health issues have been associated with violence. Around 40 percent of news stories about people suffering from a mental illness are connected with violence.
Unfortunately, these stories only lead to confusion among Americans. According to a team of researchers from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the real statistics show that less than five percent of violence occurring in the United States comes from mental illness.
Scientists analyzed every news article over a 20-year period and came up to the conclusion that this solid reporting of violence connected to mental issues alters the reader’s perception. As a consequence, people start believing that most of the people suffering from mental illness are most likely to resort to an dangerous behavior in a difficult situation.
Worse, the public opinion has hardly changed over the last few years, because many pieces of news make a strong association between dangerous behavior and mental issues. Unfortunately, this stigma has increased based on the historical data.
Between 1994 and 2005, only one percent of newspaper stories linking mental illness with violence were on the front page, whereas from 2005 to 2015, an 18 percent increase was registered.
According to Emma E. McGinty, Ph.D., MS, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the departments of Health Policy and Management and Mental Health at the Bloomberg School, most violence does not originate from mental illness.
Unfortunately, mass media chooses only the news that seems spicy enough to catch the attention of the public and most of it connecting mental issues and violence.
On the contrary, many of the people suffering from this illness have a healthy lifestyle and enjoy their lives. If mass media started to be honest, there would a significantly lower number of stories relating to people with mental illness resorting to violence.
Around 20 percent of Americans suffer from a mental illness, whereas 50 percent of them receive a diagnosis over a lifetime. Furthermore, McGinty added that it is true that anyone who intentionally kills people does not have a good mental health.
However, it does not mean that they have a particular illness. Many other causes may contribution to such a display of violence, including emotional issues, anger, drugs, alcohol, childhood abuse or poverty.