This MedlinePlus article introduced a new study from the University of California Berkeley that found “it’s rare that people with mental illness have hallucinations and delusions before they commit violent crimes.” The study’s author and associate dean of research at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare, Jennifer Skeem states, “high-profile mass shootings capture public attention and increase vigilance of people with mental illness. But our findings clearly show that psychosis rarely leads directly to violence.”

The study analyzed 305 violent crimes committed by “high-risk patients” in the U.S. Of these violent crimes, only 12% of the perpetrators experienced psychosis before committing the crime. “The findings challenge the widespread belief that many acts of violence are due to mental illness.”

Dr. Skeem notes that her study should not “detract from the message that people with mental illness need access to psychiatric services… but it’s important to remember that risk factors for violence—such as substance abuse, childhood maltreatment, neighborhood disadvantage—are mostly shared by people with and without mental illness, and that’s what we should be focused on if maximizing public safety is our goal.”