Monday, February 25, 2013

APA Responds to NRA's Mischaracterization of People With Mental Illness

APA is responding once again to mischaracterization of people with mental illness within the context of the current debate on firearms. In a recent interview on NPR’s "Weekend Edition," David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association, spoke about mental illness as it relates to crime, saying “…we destroyed our mental health care system.... There are more people in our prisons who have been diagnosed as severely mentally ill than in all the public and private mental health facilities in that state. And it's those people … who are slipping into that state that we really need to deal with.”

In a letter to Rachel Martin, host of NPR's "Weekend Edition Sunday," APA President Dilip Jeste, M.D., wrote: "While it is an unfortunate truth that there is a serious need for better mental health care in America, and many with mental illness end up in prison, Mr. Keene’s insinuation that the mentally ill pose a greater risk of violence than the general population is just plain wrong. More than 90 percent of violent acts are committed by people without a mental illness, and a majority of the mentally ill people in prison are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes. Mentally ill individuals are far more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators. In the current debate on reducing gun-related violence, one should not make people with serious mental illnesses a convenient target of attack."

Jeste called on Martin to help end the stigma against people with mental illness by acknowledging his letter on the air "in order to give hope to the nearly one-fifth of your listenership who struggle every day with a mental illness."

The full content of Jeste's letter to Martin can be accessed here.

(Image: APA)


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.