With so much violence around us, we wondered what the connection might be between mental health, violent crime and societal misperceptions. According to one expert, there is a connection, but not the one you might think. In an interview with Harold Schwartz, M.D., chief psychiatrist at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, Schwartz notes that mentally ill people are more often the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators of violent acts. Dr. Schwartz spoke at Aetna Behavioral Health’s annual summit, which brings 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. According to Schwartz, our society needs to let go of assumptions about who might be dangerous.
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 internshipand 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.