Mental illness isn't usually associated with crime, new study reports

Stereotypes that make an association between mental illness and criminal activity might not be rooted in reality, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

The study found that only 7.5 percent of crimes committed by people with serious mental disorders were directly related to their symptoms. A total of 429 crimes committed by 143 different people were analyzed for the study. The individuals who committed the crimes had one of three major types of mental illness: depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

"When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes so they get stuck in people's heads," said lead study author Jillian Peterson, PhD. "The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, not criminal and not dangerous."

No predictable patterns

The study, which might be the first of its kind, didn't find any patterns that linked criminal activity to mental illness symptoms. Only 3 percent of the study participants' crimes were related to depression symptoms, 4 percent to schizophrenia, and 10 percent to bipolar disorder.

Also, two-thirds of the offenders who had committed crimes due to their mental illness symptoms had also committed other crimes that were unrelated to their symptoms, the researchers explained.

"Is there a small group of people with mental illness committing crimes again and again because of their symptoms? We didn't find that in this study," Peterson said

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 1.2 million people with mental illness are in jails or prisons, and this population also has higher rates of probation and parole than the general population.

Source: Science Daily

Image courtesty of patrisyu/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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