VIOLENCE & MENTAL ILLNESS FACT SHEET It is estimated that 96% of severe acts of violence are committed by individuals who do not have a diagnosis of mental illness.i It is estimated that between 5% and 7% of persons diagnosed with a serious mental illness commit violence towards others in a given year, compared to between 2% and 3% of the general population.ii This elevated rate of violence for people with a mental illness is not due to the illness itself, but is related to the presence of other, more significant risk factors.iii Substance abuse increases the risk of violence regardless of mental health status; it has a stronger impact on people with a mental illness.iv Controlling for other risk factors, a person with a serious mental illness alone has same – or lower - likelihood of committing a future act of violence as any member of the general public.v The strongest risk factors for committing severe acts of violence include younger age, being male, having less than a high school education, history of violence, juvenile detention, perception of hidden threats from others, and being divorced or separated in the past year.vi People with a serious mental illness are anywhere from 2.5 times to nearly 12 times more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of violence.vii In a nationwide survey, 75% of the public viewed people with a mental illness as violent, despite the research over the past 20 years debunking this myth.viii i Fazel, S, Grunn (2006). The population impact of severe mental illness on violent crime, Am J Psychiatry (163) 1397-1403. ii Swanson, JW, Holzer CE, III, Ganju VK, Jono RT. (1990). Violence and disorder in the community: Evidence From the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Surveys, Hospital & Community Psychiatry (41)761-70. 1500 Union Avenue, Suite 2000 ● Baltimore, Maryland 21211 Phone: 410-727-6352 ● TTY: 443-285-5387 ● Fax: 410-727-6389 ● www.mdlclaw.org iii Elbogen, E.B. & Johnson, S.C. (2009). The intricate link between violence and mental disorder: Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Archives of General Psychiatry, 66(2), 152-61. The studied employed a nationally representative longitudinal data set to examine (1) what risk factors prospectively predict violent behavior; (2) whether sever mental disorders predict future violent behavior; and (3) how different risk factors may predict different types of violence; Swanson JW, Swartz MS, Van Dorn RA, et al. (2006). A national study of violent behavior in persons with schizophrenia, Arch Gen Psychiatry (63) 490-9; Steadman HJ, Mulvey EP, Monahan J, et. al. (1998) Violence by people discharged from acute psychiatric inpatient facilities and by others in the same neighborhoods, Arch Gen Psychiatry (55) 393-401. iv NASMHPD/CSG Justice Center (2010). Responding to a High-Profile, Tragic Incident Involving a Person with a Serious Mental Illness: A Toolkit for State Mental Health Commissioners. v Id.; see also Steadman HJ, Mulvey EP, Monahan J, et. al. (1998) Violence by people discharged from acute psychiatric inpatient facilities and by others in the same neighborhoods, Arch Gen Psychiatry (55) 393-401 vi Elbogen at 157. vii Teplin, L.A., McClelland, G.M., Abram, K.M., & Weiner, D.A. (2005) Crime victimization in adults with severe mental illness: Comparison with the National Crime Victimization Survey. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 911921. viii Corrigan, P.W., Watson, A.C., Gracia, G., Slopen, N., Rasinski, K. and Hall, L.L. (2005). Newspaper stories as measures of structural stigman, Psychiatric Services, 56(5), 551-556. See also Pescosolido, B., Martin, J., Link, B., Kikuzawa, S., Burgos, G., Swindle, R., et al (2000). Americans’ views of mental health and illness at century’s end: Continuity and change. Public report on the MacArthur Mental Health Module, 1006 General Social Survey. Bloomington, In: Indiana Consortium of Mental Health Services Research, Indiana University, and the Joseph P. mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; Pescosolido BA, Monahan J., Link BG, Stueve A. Kikuzawa S. The Public’s view of the competence, dangerousness, and need for legal coercion of persons with mental health problems. Am J Public Health, 1999; 89(9): 1339-1345.