Gang violence linked to high level of mental disorders

Young men in gangs are significantly more
likely to experience a mental disorder
compared to men not involved in gang
activity, BBC News reported.
In a study published in the American
Journal of Psychiatry, researchers
surveyed 4,664 British men between the
ages of 18 and 34. Overall, 3,284 men
said they had not been exposed to
violence in the past five years, 1,272 men
said they had been assaulted or involved
in a fight and 108 men reported being
involved in a gang.
Both the gang members and the men who
had been exposed to some form of
violence were more likely to seek
psychiatric help, compared to the
nonviolent men. However, men involved
in gangs experienced significantly worse
mental health outcomes.
Out of the 108 gang members, 85 percent
had a personality disorder, over half had
an anxiety disorder and 25 percent tested
positive for psychosis. Furthermore, a
third of the gang members reported
having attempting suicide.
Despite these findings, men exposed to
violence were less likely to report
problems with depression than men not
exposed to violence, according to the
report. This led researchers to believe that
anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD) were at the root of the men’s
mental health issues.
"It is probable that, among gang
members, high levels of anxiety disorder
and psychosis were explained by post-
traumatic stress disorder, the most
frequent psychiatric outcome of exposure
to violence,” said Jeremy Coid, lead study
author and director of the forensic
psychiatry research unit at Queen Mary,
University of London.