Continuing Education Activity
The relationship between psychiatric illness and criminality has been the topic of intense debate and scrutiny in the recent past in light of multiple mass shootings in the United States. While the renewed focus and media attention on the importance of mental health in the aftermath of such tragedies is a positive development, the relationship between mental illness and criminality is too often conflated. The popular belief is that people with mental illness are more prone to commit acts of violence and aggression. The public perception of psychiatric patients as dangerous individuals is often rooted in the portrayal of criminals in the media as “crazy” individuals. A large body of data suggests otherwise. People with mental illness are more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator. This bias extends all the way to the criminal justice system, where persons with mental illness get treated as criminals, arrested, charged, and jailed for a longer time in jail compared to the general population. This activity reviews psychiatric illness and criminality and the role of the interprofessional team in caring for afflicted patients.
- Explain misconceptions regarding mental illness and criminality.
- Discuss the evidence that describes the frequency of untoward criminal events in psychiatric patients.
- Discuss the negative consequence of misconceptions regarding persons with mental illness and criminal violence.
- Outline psychiatric illness and criminality and discuss the role of the interprofessional team in evaluating patients with this condition.