People with a mental illness are more likely to be victims of crime, report suggests

Anew report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission suggests that peoplewith mental health issues and social or behavioural impairments experience higherlevels of crime.

For people aged 16 and over with social or behaviouralimpairments, such as autism, attention deficit disorder or Asperger’s syndrome,35% had been the victim of a crime in the previous year, as had 30% of peoplewith mental health conditions, such as depression.

Equality and Human Rights Commission Chair David Isaac said: “People with mental illnesses and social or behaviouralimpairments experience some of the greatest misunderstanding and mistrust insociety. In spite of progress on perceptions towards people with ‘visible’disabilities, hostility towards mental health issues remain widespread.

“What our research confirms is that, in contrast to the commonlyheld prejudice linking criminality to poor mental health, people with mentalillnesses are in fact more likely than average to be a victim of a crime.”

Mind’s Policy and Campaigns Manager Geoff Heyes, said: “Peoplewith mental health problems still face stigma and discrimination, even at thehands of those meant to support them. Not only does living with a mental healthproblem make you more likely to be a victim of crime, but research from VictimSupport and Mind has also found that too often, victims with a history ofmental health problems are dismissed, not believed, or even blamed.

“We welcome this important research, and are pleased to seethat reporting of disability hate crimes has increased, perhaps because police,commissioners, healthcare staff, support agencies, local and national governmentare better working together to remove the barriers victims might face in comingforward to report a crime.”