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Gang members found to suffer unprecedented levels of psychiatric illness
Date:7/11/2013

Young men who are gang members suffer unprecedented levels of psychiatric illness, placing a heavy burden on mental health services, according to new research led by Queen Mary, University of London.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Maurice & Jacqueline Bennett Charitable Trust funded study surveyed 4,664 men aged 18 to 34 in Britain. The survey covered measures of psychiatric illness, violence and gang membership. It is the first time research has looked into whether gang violence is associated with psychiatric illness, other than substance misuse.

The survey sample was weighted to include significant numbers from areas with high gang membership (Hackney and Glasgow East), lower social classes and areas with a higher than average population of ethnic minority residents.

Of the total sample, 3,284 (70.4 per cent) reported that they had not been violent in the past five years, 1,272 (27.3 per cent) said they had assaulted another person or been involved in a fight, and 108 (2.1 per cent) said they were currently a member of a gang. Using these results the participants were split into three groups gang members, violent men and non-violent men for the analysis.

Both violent men and gang members were found to be younger than non-violent men, more likely to have been born in the UK and more likely to be unemployed.

In terms of mental health, gang members and violent men were significantly more likely to suffer from a mental disorder and access psychiatric services than non-violent men. The exception was depression, which was significantly less common among gang members and violent men.

Violent ruminative thinking, violent victimisation and fear of further victimisation were significantly higher in gang members and believed to account for high levels of psychosis and anxiety disorder in gang members.

The findings showed that, of the 108 gang members surveyed:

  • 85.8 per cen
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Contact: Katrina Coutts
k.coutts@qmul.ac.uk
Queen Mary, University of London
Source:Eurekalert

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