Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Consequences of Nontreatment: Victimization

The media and general public often overlook tragedies facing those with untreated severe mental illnesses. The reality is that they are much more likely to be victimized than the general population.

In fact, multiple studies have shown that individuals with severe psychiatric disorders are especially vulnerable to being victimized. This frequently involves acts such as theft of clothing or money but also includes assault, rape, or being killed. Women who have a severe psychiatric disorder are especially vulnerable. Some of the studies suggest that individuals who are victimized are less likely to have been compliant with their medication. This association is strongly supported by the 2002 North Carolina study by Hiday et al., which showed that individuals with severe psychiatric disorders who were on outpatient commitment, and thus were taking their medication regularly, were victimized only half as often as those who were not on outpatient commitment.

Outpatient commitment (aka AOT) is a humane intervention that can help some to get the treatment they need to avoid becoming victims of psychosis and criminal behavior.

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