Debunking Myths About Violence and Mental Illness: The Facts

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Based on these statistics and trends, it will surprise a great deal of people to find out the true relationship between violence and mental illness – which is to say, there actually is no real correlation at all.

In a study conducted by the Institute of Medicine in 2006, it was found that although past studies identified a link between mentally ill individuals and recorded violent offenders, the actual overall rates of those who commit violent acts with a mental illness was extremely small.

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

The mentally ill have long been portrayed by the entertainment industry, the news media and even by so called “experts” as the most dangerous out of all demographic groups in the United States. For example, according to a survey that was conducted by the Screen Actors Guild, and reported by Mental Health America in 1999; 60 percent of people with mental illnesses in this country were shown to be involved in some type of dangerous crime or otherwise violent activity. This train of thought has even penetrated the popular consciousness, with the total number of people who think of the mentally ill as violent offenders having doubled between 1950 and 1996 alone.

Why Would People Expect  A Correlation Between Mentally Ill People And Violent Crime?

The true fact of the matter is, anyone is likely to embrace violence if the conditions are right. According to a study that was conducted by Elbogen and Johnson in 2009, mentally ill individuals were more likely to exhibit violent behavior if certain other factors were also true. These included but were not limited to experiencing substance abuse or chemical dependency issues, being victims of physical abuse, getting divorced, losing a job and  many more circumstances.

In other words, violent crimes are committed  for the same reasons, regardless of the person’s state of  mental health.  The fact that someone has a mental illness typically has absolutely nothing to do with the situation. These other risk factors that are unfortunately all too common in modern society, however, do play an important role in determining whether or not someone will become a violent offender.

Additional Research

Despite what the national news media, the entertainment industry and other aspects of our society would have you believe, the relationship between violence and the mentally ill is rather minute – as it has been for the last several decades.

According to a study conducted by the American Psychiatric Association in 1994, the vast majority of all violent offenders in the United States do not suffer from mental illness in any way. In a Mulvey study conducted during the same year, this fact was indeed, confirmed.

Gaining a deeper understanding of the risk factors that are in play that include being a victim of physical abuse, dealing with substance abuse issues and others will not only help clear the stigma that surrounds violence and mental illness, but it will also help people without mental illness, who actually are more likely to commit violent crimes, so that they can get the necessary help they need.

At Pasadena Villa, an individual is considered a candidate for residential treatment when the needed therapy services are too great to integrate into the family’s life pattern or, the impact on the family is just too disruptive for successful treatment if they were to remain at home.  Residents are voluntarily admitted and are selected on the basis of individual diagnostic assessments and must be medically and psychiatrically stable.

The primary consideration in each case is the determination of an applicant’s ability to benefit from the therapeutic program offered.  The choice of residential treatment is made when there is a wide range of severe disturbances and it is necessary to protect development; the severity and complexity of these disturbances require constant supervision within a structured, therapeutic setting.

Pasadena Villa Psychiatric Residential Treatment Centers creates a comforting and therapeutic environment for those suffering from mental illness. We believe in treating all residents with compassion, and our programs are designed in ways that preserve and protect their dignity.

Our mental health professionals work directly with residents. They observe them in actual social situations and incorporate these observations directly into the resident’s ongoing treatment plan.  We do common activities that many families do. Our staff and residents learn and model appropriate social and communication skills, from daily mealtimes, to many enjoyable social and recreational activities.

This individual, real life personalized attention makes the Pasadena Villa treatment experience more appropriate and beneficial for each of our residents, especially when compared to any other available adult residential treatment mental health services.

The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. Our outpatient center is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. If you or someone you know may need counseling on mental health services, please fill out our contact form or call us at 407-574-5190 for more information.


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If you’re ready to take the next step in the recovery process for you or your loved one, the compassionate team at Pasadena Villa is here to help. Give us a call at 407.574.5190 or complete our contact form.

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