Essay on Mental Health and Violence

Published: 2021/11/16
Number of words: 3263


Mental disorders have in recent years been the leading cause of most disabilities across the world, according to a study carried out by the World Bank and the World Health Organization. Some of the illnesses have resulted from prolonged cases of depression. Mental diseases significantly impact the patient’s health and contribute substantially to such instances of disability in the public domain and the public in general. Recent research on trying to understand and treat the problem of mental illness seems to produce data that can be used to inform various policymakers on how they can improve the conditions of those who have the problem of mental illness.

Literature Review

Around 50% of mental illness and health difficulties have been recognized to occur during the years of 15 and above and are commonly associated with adverse outcomes like gaining low educational marks and attaining physical health problems. Additionally, the condition affects close to 20% of the young generation globally, where many experience mental distress, which is impairing and has varying degrees. Moreover, adolescents in the transitional phase are commonly affected by this disorder compared to those who have already passed the transitional phase. Therefore, it is essential to develop stages for the improvement of literacy in mental health and promote access to mental health services.

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Violence is regarded as a phenomenon that is global and, at some point, results in deaths. Globally, it is estimated that it claims the lives of close to 1.6 million people every year, making it one of those leading causes of deaths in the global arena. Although no country has been untouched by the problem of violence, most of these countries report that violence results in fatalities across the low and middle-income generating countries in the world, where internal conflicts are cited as the leading causes of the violence.

There is a deep understanding that violence that leads to the deaths of the victims cannot at all times be attributed to the effects of war, and close to 80%of the deaths commonly occur outside armed conflicts. The issue of violence is also understood to be an expensive affair, with the global estimated costs running close to $ 13.6 trillion, which is also estimated to consume a percentage of 13.3 of the world Gross Domestic Product. The problem has since been tied with activities of criminality, especially in the urban areas according to a report from the findings of UN’s Global Studies regarding issues of homicide and intentional homicide was reported to be the main cause of most deaths of close to half a million people in the world during the years of early 200s.

But the question that arises is whether violence has an association with mental illnesses in its occurrences. The answer is positive since most mentally incapacitated people tend to be violent and use weapons to melt their mental incapacity on innocent people. Moreover, most of the victims have also been identified to be women. Therefore, what seems to be contributors of violence among mental persons is explained below in detail.

Violence and Mental Illness

There is a high association of violence with mental illnesses. However, mental illnesses and the disorders that come with them may not be the necessary causes of the violent acts that the mentally ill people in society commit. However, most of the major determinants in violence continue to have an association with socio-demographic and the economic factors that affect the whole society, although it heavily weighs on the mentally ill people since they cannot produce meaningful inputs in the employment sector.

Moreover, mentally ill people are indulged in the use of substances tend to be violent in society, and early identification of the use of substance among mentally ill people is critical in reducing the violence that emanates from the use of the same among the mentally incapacitated people. Unfortunately, community members mostly exaggerate substances as the significant causes of violence among people with mental illnesses (DeVylder et al., 2018). They base their attention on the strengths of mental diseases and the violence that comes with using substances among mentally ill people. There is also little research that has been made concerning the association of mental illness with violence. Still, it stands to be stated that most mentally ill persons are more associated with violence as victims than being the perpetrators of violent circumstances.

According to DeVylder et al. (2018), many psychiatrists articulate that in the emergency and acute care settings, many people have reported that there is a direct experience with behaviours of violence that comes along among those who are mentally ill. For instance, in a country such as Canada where violent circumstances have been reported daily, although the population of the country is low according to in comparison to other countries, most of the psychiatrists spend a majority of their time treating cases and managing the treatment of behaviours associated with violence and others report to have been assaulted by their patients regularly which means that there is a high association of violence and mental illness across the society in the whole world regardless of the region.

The perceptions of the public concerning the link between violence and mental illness are regarded to be central to high levels of stigma and also to discrimination because more people are likely to be condoned to forced legal actions and also to coerced towards receiving some treatment where it is realized that mental illnesses are the issue that is leading to violent activities within the society. Furthermore, victimization of the mentally ill people in the community has also been on the rise in recent times, increasing the chances of violence among the mentally incapacitated people due to their isolation and lack of attention as they are mostly left to fight their own battles alone.

A Societal Challenge

Most of the high violence levels and criminal activities are perpetuated by the mentally disabled people in the society across the regions of Southern Africa. They are seen to be possessing issues of underlying economic, social and also the political challenges among the mentally ill people, which regards it to having social inequality, being poor, sandwiched in rapid urbanization and also their lack of employment in addition to having institutional shortcomings which renders them to be violent against the society.

The effects of violence are adverse on any country and are commonly harmful not only single-handedly to the citizens of any nation but also to the well-being of all the community members and the whole country. Violence, in most cases, reduces the rate of economic growth. It is also seen as an obstacle in the reduction of poverty amongst citizens. At the same time, it causes psychological trauma and physical trauma, which is highly profound in addition to ensuring a reduction of life quality across the societal settings (Gyamfi et al., 2018). However, violence is a situation that cannot be inevitable in the human condition, and assumptions are constantly shifting while the focus is also constantly broadening with an emphasis being placed on the methods of preventing the violent behaviours that are commonly witnessed in the society and the consequences that come along with its occurrence.

Psychiatric Illness and Criminality

There has been a heated debate on the relationships between psychiatric illness and the criminality witnessed mainly in the United States of America in the recent past. There have been incidences of mass shootings that have been rampant in the country, which have been multiple. Although there have been renewed focus in addition to having the media’s attention regarding the need for mental health after such instances and tragedies that have positive developments, the association between criminality and mental health is much more conflated. The public believes that psychiatric patients pose more danger in perpetuating criminal activities than violent actions than those with a good mentality. It is because the aggression of those with mental illnesses tends to be of a higher calibre.

Additionally, violence that is rooted in mentally ill individuals is regarded to be crazy. The bias against them extends even to the systems of criminal justice where these people get treatment of a criminal as they are arrested and charged in the law courts where they are handed lengthy jail terms compared to their counterparts in the other generation. There is then the need to take care of the mental people in society to reduce issues of criminality for the afflicted persons in the community. More so, most of the criminal elements in the community has been regarded as mentally ill, which makes all the mentally challenged individuals considered criminals in society (Ghiasi et al., 2020). Violence has of late become an occurrence that is common over the decades, which has severally led towards much outcries from the public since most of the government operatives seems to be reluctant in containing the nuisance through not establishing some of the required health systems that have the capacity to tame, eliminate, or even reduce the rates of violent incidences that results into deaths especially when committed by mentally ill persons. Violence prevention is regarded as one of those significant experiments that are encountered at society levels, which should be addressed and be tamed through the establishment of various government initiatives with additional efforts from the whole community. It calls for the making of extensive researches towards helping in the evaluation of its leading roots in the community and then establishing the some appropriate infrastructures that are required in its prevention, reduction, or elimination the ghosts of violence in the community. Furthermore, violence minimizes the rates of developmental growth and also the confidence levels within the community members regarding individuals and also the overall safety of the community and there exists the need to establish critical strategies aimed at curbing the issues of violence.

Members of the community are mostly arrested. They are sent to prisons in large numbers due to their inability to defend themselves and the lack of awareness and the resources required to handle those types of people in society. Moreover, the police often arrest these people for committing petty crimes like jaywalking or loitering in the streets, which are minor offences but finds them in prisons. Additionally, the closure of most state hospitals of psychiatric care, which started back in 1960 and the deinstitutionalization that came with it left many patients who required psychiatric care under the mercies of private doctors where a majority of them could not afford, leaving the situation to worsen by each growing day where violence increased that came from these patients.

Major Biological Concepts and Theories of Violence among Mentally Ill Persons

Most theories of crime and violent activities have been tied to certain biological situations and conditions and an increased tendency to engage in violent behaviours. During the 1890s, there was a great interest that was largely expanding each day in addition to controversies that were always generated by biological theories from a great Italian criminologist known as Cesare Lombroso, who investigated the skulls and the facial features of different criminals. He hypothesized that persistent and severe criminal acts that resulted in violent activities were greatly associated with reversion or atavism to the primitive stages of human development. In the 20th century midway, William Sheldon also won some considerable support regarding his theory, which articulated that criminal behaviours were most common amongst athletic and muscular persons that those who are tall or thin and soft individuals who are rounded.

According to Eriksson et al. (2018), during the early years of the 1960s, a significant debate arose which suggested that there is a possible association that exists between violent tendencies among mentally ill people who have chromosomal abnormalities and particularly those that poses the XYY-trisomy, which is characterized by having the presence of the extra chromosome of Y and are more prone to the tendencies of violent behaviours than witnessed in the other general populations. Although such popularity of the earlier theories of biological research is constantly waning off, research continues to yield more essential findings. For instance, several studies have generally found that the general level of violence has a connection that exists between violence and biology through criminality for both adoptees and also the twins.

In addition, twins can exhibit similar tendencies of both violence and criminality when they are identical to fraternal due to their similarity in genetic similarities to the fraternal twins. On the other hand, adopted children also have high likelihoods of being involved in violent behaviours where their biological parents may have been violent in cases where they pose mental disorders. These factors are compounded mainly by having mental challenges among the individuals and are determined by risk factors such as drug addictions and substance abuse. Another factor that contributes a lot to the causation of violence among the mentally ill persons in the community is the consumption of alcohol which triggers the minds of the mentally incapacitated persons (Eriksson et al., 2018). Drinking alcohol has primarily been associated with increasing the chances of perpetuating violent scenes, and its continued use also increase the chances of engaging in criminality. Therefore, consumption of alcohol among mentally ill persons should be highly discouraged.

Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System

Most people with the problem of mental illnesses have primarily fallen prey to the systems of justice at rates that are alarming to the general public and the criminal justice system since they increase the costs of running the incarceration centres as they mostly awarded long sentences to the magnitude of the violence that they cause to their victims. Each year, close to ten million citizens in the United States of America are booked in jails where studies establish that these rates emanate from people with severe illnesses of the mind where the population of those jailed for violence and with mental illnesses accounts to at least three of four times higher compared to those mentally ill persons who are free in the streets.

Members of the public suggest that those mentally ill individuals who hit the headlines commit high profile incidents, and most of them commit serious violent crimes. Therefore, to establish a proper chain to prevent violence amongst mentally ill persons across the world, there should to be laid down strategies that ought to be established to detect some of the risks that may be resultant to violence among the mentally ill persons. One of them can be the establishment and the participation of the community members who are concerned towards preventing some of the criminal and the violent activities in the community by creating or establishing community based policing programs (Leutwyler et al., 2018). Although some mentally ill persons may not necessarily have families, others are known to have exhausted all the resources and the patience of their family members. In contrast, some family member seeks the help of the police to intervene in apprehending the mentally ill people due to the fear of the underlying danger of their violent reactions which makes them end up in jails. These actions may lead the persons who possess the mental illness problem to become violent and later end up in prison for committing high magnitude violent actions of the general public or their family members. It means that there is a need for various organizations to make policies that broadly based on the efforts of improving the welfare of the mentally ill individuals to ensure that their situation is contained and does not result in violence which may see them land under the wrong hands of the law. In addition, the criminal justice system should consider those offenders who may pose signs of mental illness and provide rehabilitation methods instead of sending the law offenders with mental issues to long-term jail sentences.

Medics are increasingly worried about the increase in the presence of violence among mentally ill persons and the rate at which this condition is sending most of them into jails. Therefore, they suggest establishing programs that aim at crime prevention, which leads to violent encounters among community members with mental disorders and requires an approach that seeks to enhance the development and the accumulation of the necessary resources that are essential for benefiting the members of the community who have mentally illness. Additionally, police department ought to also allow those members of the community in addition to the general public towards developing some of the realistic expectations aimed at community policing programs in order to deter violent encounters from mentally ill people, limiting incarcerations among people with mental disorders (Leutwyler et al., 2018). More so, because the issue of community policing regularly work well in long-term commitments, it should be fixed in almost all communities in ensuring that violent crime rates within the society are maintained mostly at the levels that are low and acceptable.

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In addition, there has been a high outcry in the general public about deinstitutionalization and the unavailability of the intermediate and the long-term hospitalization of the mentally ill person in the state hospitals. Therefore, there is a need for more rigid and formal criteria for the civil servants’ commitment to ensuring that the mentally ill persons are accorded better treatment and insufficient support systems to patients of mental disorders from criminal justice methods. Moreover, the criminal justice system restrains the offenders of violent crimes who have mental disorders towards seeking and gaining access to mental health treatment. At the same time, in their custody, the problem increases to higher heights than the patients with the same condition who are in the free world at the community levels (Leutwyler et al., 2018). Although these patients are under the police’s watch in the criminal justice system, they ought to be accorded proper medical care to reduce their conditions.


Mental illness and disorders are common occurrences across the community and should be considered a common disease that requires proper treatment. When these problems strike an individual at the community level, quick medical attention is needed to avert the crisis of developing the condition into violent levels. Therefore, proper structures need to be established at the community level to diagnose the disorder at its initial stages for early treatments to commence. In addition the criminal justice system should also have the same structures that can assist in taking care of the mentally ill prisoners at their far end. Finally, the problems of mental health and the disorders that comes with the situation needs to be accorded specialized treatment for the patients of the disease to heal gracefully.


DeVylder, J. E., Jun, H. J., Fedina, L., Coleman, D., Anglin, D., Cogburn, C., & Barth, R. P. (2018). Association of exposure to police violence with prevalence of mental health symptoms among urban residents in the United States. JAMA network open1(7), e184945-e184945.

Eriksson, M., Ghazinour, M., & Hammarström, A. (2018). Different uses of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory in public mental health research: what is their value for guiding public mental health policy and practice?. Social Theory & Health16(4), 414-433.

Ghiasi, N., Azhar, Y., & Singh, J. (2020). Psychiatric illness and criminality. StatPearls [Internet].

Gyamfi, S., Hegadoren, K., & Park, T. (2018). Individual factors that influence experiences and perceptions of stigma and discrimination towards people with mental illness in Ghana. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing27(1), 368-377.

Leutwyler, H., Hubbard, E., & Zahnd, E. (2017). Case management helps prevent criminal justice recidivism for people with serious mental illness. International journal of prisoner health.

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