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Does mental health impact criminal behavior?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2022 | Criminal Defense

It’s important to know that mental health can impact the way a person behaves. Someone who has a mental illness that is uncontrolled may feel anxious, depressed or otherwise unlike themselves.

What shouldn’t happen, though, is for the police or other professionals in law to make assumptions about someone just because they happen to have a mental illness in their medical history.

The stigma surrounding mental health

There is a stigma that many people with mental health issues face, and that stigma is that they are largely unpredictable or prone to violence. In reality, some people with mental health issues do commit crimes. Sometimes, a mental illness can make it more likely for someone to participate in criminal activity, too. That doesn’t mean that all people with a mental illness are dangerous or likely to commit a crime, though.

Mental illness isn’t an excuse, but it’s also not evidence

It’s important to remember that someone with a mental illness isn’t necessarily committing crimes because of it, just as having a mental illness isn’t evidence that someone did commit a crime.

Mental illnesses can causes some symptoms like:

  • Extreme mood changes
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Excessive anger, hostility and violence

They can also cause issues like feeling sad, being overly tired or struggling with alcohol or drug use.

When managed, most mental illnesses don’t affect people’s daily lives. However, it is possible for some mental illnesses to spiral out of control and lead to destructive behavior.

The biggest issue with mental health in the criminal justice system is making sure that people with these illnesses aren’t automatically targeted or automatically assumed to be violence or dangerous. These medical conditions can have a real impact on behavior, but that doesn’t mean that all people with these conditions will be prone to violence or criminal behavior.

If you have a mental illness and have been accused of a crime, you need to consider your defense carefully. A good defense could make a big difference in how your case is prosecuted and how it moves forward in court. A strong defense may also help you get additional support, so you can better manage your health.

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