Mentally ill vulnerable to violent attacks
28 February 2012
People with mental illnesses are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it, according to a study which reckoned that nearly 25 per cent of people with these conditions had been attacked in the past year.
The study, carried out by the John Moores University in Liverpool and the World Health Organization in Geneva and published in the Lancet journal, said that people with any kind of disability were at greater risk of violence. But people with learning difficulties were more vulnerable and adults with mental illnesses more vulnerable again.
Among the suggestions put forward as to why this would be the case were that those with mental illnesses often have difficulty forming relationships, are more likely to be homeless, in prison, living in poverty or taken illegal substances.
Prof Mark Bellis said: "Lifetime exposure to violence, and the proportions of individuals with disability who are directly threatened with violence or otherwise live in fear of becoming a victim, are likely to be substantially higher than our estimate."
However, Simon Lawton Smith from the Mental Health Foundation, wasn't surprised by the study's findings.
"The research sadly adds new evidence to what we already know," he said, "that people with a mental illness and people with a learning disability are at a high risk of being the victim of violence. Although research suggests that there are factors that may increase risks of violence... people living with mental illness are 10 times more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators."