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Untreated mental illness increases risk for violence, expert says

Aug 29 2015

People with mental illness who are untreated early in life have an increased risk for violence, according to one of the psychiatric experts on the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, a panel assembled following the tragic shooting at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.  In a video interview with The Health Section, Harold Schwartz, M.D., chief psychiatrist at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, notes that a subgroup of people with mental illness have a higher risk for violence.

Dr. Schwartz has been director of the Department of Psychiatry at Hartford Hospital since 1989, assuming his duties at the Institute of Living in 1994 following a merger of the institutions. Before coming to Hartford Hospital, he was chief of psychiatric outpatient services, chief of the program in psychiatry and law, and unit chief of adult psychiatry services at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Schwartz also served on the Connecticut Governor’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission. He graduated from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He completed his fellowship in psychiatry and law at New York University/Bellevue Hospital Center and his internship and psychiatric residency at New York Hospital / Cornell Medical Center and at Payne Whitney Clinic in New York City. He earned his Bachelor of Arts at Queens College, City University of New York.

According to Schwartz, our society needs to let go of assumptions about who might be dangerous.

Dr. Schwartz spoke at a 2015 Behavioral Health summit hosted by Aetna. The summit brought together subject matter experts from Aetna, as well as those from medical and academic fields, to discuss mental health issues affecting our communities. The 2015 summit focused on the connection between mental health and violence.

Mental health and mental illness are complex issues. You can read more about these topics and what experts have to say in these posts:

Stigma surrounding mental health can delay help up to a year

It’s time to change the mental health conversation

Mental health issues don’t take the day off

First aid training for mental health can help first responders