We often hear that people who have major mental disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders and mood disorders are violent and dangerous, and we should avoid them at all cost. How true is this?
Yes, although some people with severe mental disorders can be involved in violent crimes, this is only applicable to a small amount of them. Only 3% to 5% of violent crimes can be attributed to those with severe mental illnesses. Also, the risk of violence in mentally ill people is much lower if there is no history of violence, no substance abuse issues and if they are living in a conducive environment. Majority of people with mental disorders are not violent and instead, they are the victims of violence. In fact, compared to the general population, people with severe mental disorders are over 10 times more prone to be victims of violence. Various sources have reported agreeing with the fact that people with severe mental disorders are the victims instead of perpetrators of violent crimes. This is because people who are mentally ill tend to be more vulnerable than the general population and therefore, they are less capable in protecting themselves.
The misconception that mentally ill people are violent and dangerous is present in every corner of the world and the presence of such social stigma brings a lot of negative consequences. Firstly, it not only makes people with mental illnesses feel socially isolated, but it may also make the mentally ill people less likely to seek treatment. Besides, it may also cost the economic well-being of people with mental disorders. As they leave their illnesses untreated, they are unable to lead a normal life and this may bring some impact to the national productivity and consumption.
Thus, it is necessary to educate the public about the correct facts. This is to ensure people with mental illnesses are not being stigmatized and mislabeled, so that they are comfortable with disclosing their mental illnesses to others, seek treatment and they are able to lead their lives just like the others.