victimisation of people with mental health problems
by Chris George
people with mental health problems have suffered theft, been attacked,
harassed, sexually assaulted or raped by people in their own community,
according to a new report.
the charity which published today's report, said it exposes the
"extreme" harassment and victimisation committed by people
towards neighbours who have diagnoses such as depression, bipolar
disorder and schizophrenia.
chief executive Paul Farmer said: "People with mental distress
feel unsafe in their own communities, unsafe in their own homes
and have even come to expect harassment as part of living with mental
surveyed 400 people with mental health problems and victim support
workers. It found 71 per cent of people with mental health problems
had been victimised in the last two years. This compares to 24 per
cent of other people, as detailed in national crime statistics.
The survey found 22 per cent of people with mental health problems
were physically assaulted (compared to 3 per cent of other people).
Twenty seven per cent were sexually harassed and 10 per cent sexually
assaulted, including being raped.
survey also found 22 per cent were physically assaulted and 41 per
cent suffered ongoing bullying. Nearly 90 per cent of respondents
living in council housing had been victimised.
complaints included being pestered, chased, and having items thrown
at them. Others were spat at, received prank calls and hate mail.
Some received death threats.
report, entitled “Another Assault”, also claimed police
“harden” their attitude and have a “loss of sympathy”
to victims of crime after they disclose a psychiatric diagnosis.
Six of ten victims said the authorities, particularly the police
and crown prosecution lawyers, did not take them seriously, the
In February “disability-aggravated crimes” sentencing
provision was introduced. This enables courts to increase sentences
for a offence aggravated by hostility towards a person's disability,
including mental health.
says that with so many service users “being brushed aside”
when trying to report harassment, police officers may not identify
a case as disability hate crime.
Mind wants the British Crime Survey to record crimes against people
with mental health problems, and for all frontline police, crown
prosecution recruits and legal professionals to receive mental health
Mr Farmer said: "Time and again we hear stories of people with
mental health problems being discriminated against, but what we
have uncovered here is evidence of bullying, harassment and victimisation
on an alarming scale.
"In an added blow, people with mental health problems are having
to fight for justice when crimes are committed against them, as
all too often, criminal justice agencies simply don't believe them."
Crown Prosecution Service said disability-aggravated crimes sentencing
has been used in only 68 cases in the last two quarters for which
there was information. The service deals with about a million cases
with mental health problems
Rob Marcus, Service User and a Service Transformation Agent, Cambridge
and Peterborough Mental Health Trust.
January 9, 2008
Of course those with obvious mental health problems are victimised
more commonly than "normal" members of the public. They
are identified as weak and vulnerable and are therefore targets
of those who enjoy tormenting vulnerable people. The issue is that
society as a whole shuns these people and their problems are perceived
as less important than those of others.
society begins to accept, rather than reject. those with mental
health issues, the authorities will take a more serious, balanced
view. It cannot happen the other way around, because it will simply
be perceived as further politically correct dictats.
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