There has been a lot of misinformation and fear spread over the past years when it comes to an alleged connection between mental illness and gun violence. A very distorted picture has emerged from the aftermath of tragic events like the one in Highland Park this past summer. Mental illness is often named as a primary or contributing reason for the cause of gun violence when there is little to no evidence whatsoever to show this. Often there is a rush to judgement before many of the facts are even known. By focusing exclusively on mental illness, we are missing all the aspects of violence and determinants of violence that have nothing at all to do with mental illness.
“In fact, the opposite is true,” says Patrick Phelan, Sinnissippi Centers’ President/CEO. “Individuals with a mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence and less likely to commit a violent act than the general population.” This is well established by peer reviewed research. The stigma and resulting discrimination surrounding this issue remains. “We need to do better in reducing, not increasing, stigma for those with mental illness,” adds Phelan.