False Association: Mental Health and Gun Violence

The Texas Coalition for Healthy Minds joins with the following organizations; National Council for Behavioral Health, Coalition for Smart Safety, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, American Psychiatric Association, Mental Health America, and National Disability Rights Network to stop the false association of gun violence with mental health issues.

  • The overwhelming consistent and clear evidence has clearly shown that mental health disabilities are not predictors of gun violence (Coalition for Smart Safety, 2019).
  • In fact, recent studies show that only 4% of all gun violence is committed by people with mental health disabilities (American Journal of Public Health, 2015).
  • 95-97% of gun violence is not caused by a mental illness (Annals of Epidemiology, 2014).
  • The Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health concluded that the contribution of mental health conditions to violence in our society is very small.

Research by the American Psychiatric Association shows that “no technique will be available to identify those who will act violently, that will not simultaneously identify a large group of people who would not.” ( American Journal of Psychiatry, March 2012).

“As a nation, we must not allow people with mental illness to become scapegoats for the urgent problem of mass violence, particularly perpetrated by individuals with guns.” (National Council for Behavioral Health, 2019).

Hate, anger, and racism are not mental health conditions and cannot be solved by the mental health system. People with mental health conditions are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.  Even “severe” mental illness, alone, is not statistically related to future violence.  Given all of this, trying to solve the gun violence epidemic in this country by “doing something” about mental health will not address the problem. Every other country in the world has citizens with mental health conditions, but they do not experience gun violence at the same rates as in the US. (National Disability Rights Network 2018)

The continued mischaracterization of people with mental illness consistently incorrectly labels and stereotypes this population, increasing stigma.  The real focus of legislation should be focused on preventing gun violence, not mischaracterizing the causes for this persistent and deadly issue.

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