Myths and Mental Illness: Week 3 | Seattle NTC

Myths and Mental Illness: Week 3

The following guest article from Swedish Health Services/Providence Health & Services is the third in a series debunking myths about mental illness that will be featured here on the SeattleNTC blog.

Myth #3: Mental illness often leads to violent and dangerous behavior

When news of a shocking incident such as a mass shooting first reaches us on TV, it’s likely that we’ll hear the words “mental illness” as the media speculates why it happened. But less than five percent of violence in the United States is caused by people with mental illnesses. The truth is, a mentally ill person is more likely to be a victim of violence — at four times the rate of the general public.

“The majority of individuals living with mental illness have productive relationships and are described by others as loving and caring people,” said Tamara Sheehan, director of psychiatry, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital, in Spokane, Wash.

About one in five adults in America experiences a mental illness. When people in this group are involved with violence, severe conditions such as untreated psychosis or co-occurring drug or alcohol abuse are typically contributing factors.


Sources: Mental Health Myths and Facts; National Alliance on Mental Illness.