Myths associated with mental illness perpetuate stigma - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Myths associated with mental illness perpetuate stigma

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - On Sunday, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said he believes mental illness played a role in the shooting at LAX.  While tragedies like that one can lead to more people believing those who suffer from mental illness are violent, the issue isn't as clear as it may seem.

"Many people believe that individuals with mental illnesses are dangerous or violent," said Michelle Werth with Turning Point Counseling Services.

While some people can be mentally ill and violent, research shows the vast majority of violent people don't suffer from mental illness.

"The belief that somebody who has a mental illness is dangerous and violent that just contributes to the stigma.  If you think that somebody is going to be violent or is crazy you are not going to want to hang out with them.  You are not going to want to employ them," said Werth.

A recent study from the American Psychiatric Association found nearly half of all Americans know only a little or almost nothing at all about mental illness. Given that each year one in five adults experience mental illness, such as depression, bipolar, PTSD and schizophrenia, Werth says more education is needed.

"People who have mental illnesses can and do recover.  Recovery is possible.  People with mental illnesses can go on to lead healthy, happy, productive lives.  They can contribute to society.  They can make the world a better place," said Werth.

For people with mental illnesses, violent behavior appears to be more common when other risk factors are present like substance abuse, physical abuse or stress.

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