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Are Mental Illness and Workplace Violence Related?

August 1st, 2016

Is there a link between mental illness and workplace violence? Mentally ill individuals are no more likely to become violent than someone in the general population, whether this is domestic violence, workplace violence, or other violent acts. People who suffer from a mental disorder may be high functioning or low functioning, and around 20% of the population will experience at least one mental disorder in any given year. To put this in perspective in the USA alone this means that in 2016 more than 42.5 million people will have to deal with mental illness on some level. Since there is nowhere near this rate of workplace violence in America the false association of mental illness with violence is disproved. Some studies show that those with a mild mental disorder may even be less likely than an individual in the general population to commit workplace violence.

One problem is that as soon as an episode of workplace violence becomes news people start looking for mental illness in the belief that no sane person could do something so extreme. Unfortunately history has shown that there are evil people who do not suffer from any mental disorders yet these individuals have performed monstrous acts of violence and sadism. Until the stigma is removed from any form of mental illness and these conditions are treated the same as physical ailments there will be instances where workplace violence and mental illness are linked. In many more cases mental illness will play no role at all though, and the person who becomes violent will do so because they are angry, they feel unappreciated, they are jealous, they have been rejected, or some other superficial motive.

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