Race a factor in repeated victimizations of people with mental illness

January 19, 2016

African Americans who are mentally ill are at greater risk of being repeatedly victimized than are mentally ill white people, according to criminologists at Georgia State University.

The researchers found the rate of recurring victimization among this population remains stable over time, while it declines during the first year after release from inpatient psychiatric hospitalization for whites.

The study by alumna Christina Policastro and professors Brent Teasdale and Leah Daigle of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies is the first to analyze revictimization of persons with serious mental illness by race. In the study published recently in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, the authors used data from the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study to compare the risk factors of and trajectories for recurring victimization among individuals diagnosed with serious mental illness.

"Earlier studies show that persons with serious mental illness who engage in risky lifestyle behaviors or live in socially disorganized neighborhoods may be especially vulnerable to victimization," said Daigle, an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. "They are more attractive as targets and have greater exposure to potential offenders."

"We were interested in carrying this research further by showing which behaviors and lifestyles influence victimization over time for persons with mental illness in each racial group, and whether their trajectories differ," said lead author Policastro, who now teaches at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.

Research suggests African Americans with mental disorders encounter a number of social and cultural barriers to seeking help, including limited access to and underuse of .

"Lower-income urban communities with larger high-need populations, such as homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals, are dependent on publicly funded health care programs for mental health services," said Teasdale, an associate professor. "Yet the availability of these services varies across location, affecting the care options available to many African Americans who suffer from mental illness."

The study suggests these barriers can have dire consequences.

"It is important for to recognize their clients may vary in their risk of being victimized, as well as experiencing a recurring victimization. This knowledge will help them target and address their clients' key risk factors," Daigle said.

The authors suggest interventions, including improving the accessibility of services for under-served populations and reducing the social and financial barriers to their use.

"Overcoming these barriers may improve the overall quality of life for African Americans with and reduce their vulnerability to being victimized over time," Policastro said.

Explore further: Review explores cancer screening, prevention, and treatment in people with mental illness

More information: Christina Policastro et al. The Recurring Victimization of Individuals with Mental Illness: A Comparison of Trajectories for Two Racial Groups, Journal of Quantitative Criminology (2015). DOI: 10.1007/s10940-015-9271-8

Related Stories

Review explores cancer screening, prevention, and treatment in people with mental illness

December 11, 2015
A new report calls attention to cancer in people with mental illness, suggesting that healthcare system and societal factors are just as critical as individual lifestyle factors— linked to smoking and obesity—that lead ...

Ethnicity impacts perceptions of mental health among black communities

October 8, 2015
When it comes to self-reported mental health among black Americans, ethnicity may play a role in how individuals perceive their status, say researchers at the University of Michigan.

Local health departments key to expanding mental health care in US

January 5, 2016
Local health departments could play a significant role in tackling mental health issues in the United States, according to a recent study conducted by faculty in Drexel's Dornsife School of Public Health.

Treatment of substance abuse can lessen risk of future violence in mentally ill, study finds

October 1, 2014
If a person is dually diagnosed with a severe mental illness and a substance abuse problem, are improvements in their mental health or in their substance abuse most likely to reduce the risk of future violence?

Heavy users of mental health care have substantially different patterns of health care use

January 5, 2016
While a small number of people account for a disproportionately large portion of health services use, heavy users of mental health care have substantially different patterns of health care use than other heavy users of health ...

Recommended for you

Visual clues we use during walking and when we use them

July 25, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A trio of researchers with the University of Texas and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has discovered which phase of visual information processing during human walking is used most to guide the feet accurately. ...

Psychopaths are better at learning to lie, say researchers

July 25, 2017
Individuals with high levels of psychopathic traits are better at learning to lie than individuals who show few psychopathic traits, according to a study published in the open access journal Translational Psychiatry. The ...

Toddlers begin learning rules of reading, writing at very early age, study finds

July 25, 2017
Even the proudest of parents may struggle to find some semblance of meaning behind the seemingly random mish-mash of letters that often emerge from a toddler's first scribbled and scrawled attempts at putting words on paper.

Higher cognitive abilities linked to greater risk of stereotyping

July 24, 2017
People with higher cognitive abilities are more likely to learn and apply social stereotypes, finds a new study. The results, stemming from a series of experiments, show that those with higher cognitive abilities also more ...

Exposure to violence hinders short-term memory, cognitive control

July 24, 2017
Being exposed to and actively remembering violent episodes—even those that happened up to a decade before—hinders short-term memory and cognitive control, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National ...

Researchers pave new path toward preventing obesity

July 24, 2017
People who experience unpredictable childhoods due to issues such as divorce, crime or frequent moves face a higher risk of becoming obese as adults, according to a new study by a Florida State University researcher.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.