Gang violence, mental disorders positively related: Study

There is no denying the fact that gang wars adversely affect the society. Findings of a new study suggest that such acts of violence may be detrimental to the mental health of the individuals as well.

A new UK study has established that young men, who are part of a gang, are more susceptible to contracting a mental disorder vis-à-vis their counterparts who disassociate from the bunch of hooligans and do not indulge in such practices.

Research methodology
For the purpose of the study, researchers from Queen Mary, University of London, surveyed 4,664 men aged between 18 and 34. The researchers specifically included people from Hackney and Glasgow East, areas where incidents of gang wars was high. Care was also taken to include people from areas with high ethnic minority populations.

These people were grouped on the basis of individual fights they had in the recent past and on the basis of their associations. The final findings of the survey were culled from responses of 108 people who admitted to be gang members at the time of the study.

Study findings
The survey revealed that close to 50 percent of the gang members had an anxiety disorder. Majority of them, 85 percent had a personality disorder while a forth of them were diagnosed to be suffering from neurosis. Surprisingly, the incidence of depression was low amongst these gang members.

“It is probable that, among gang members, high levels of anxiety disorder and psychosis were explained by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the most frequent psychiatric outcome of exposure to violence,” Prof Jeremy Coid, lead study author and director of the forensic psychiatry research unit at Queen Mary, University of London, said of the study findings.

A third of these 108 gang members had attempted to commit suicide. The study researchers justified this by stating that impetuous violence is directed “inwards” as well.

“It is very clear they have numerous problems throughout their lives, often related to drug, alcohol problems and maltreatment at home – and they all contribute to poor mental health,” noted Coid.

The findings of the study have been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.