New Grant Help Supports Charity Research Barriers To Justice for People with Mental Health Problems

Wednesday, 02 December, 2009

Victim Support1 has been awarded close to £480,000 by the Big Lottery Fund.

The money will pay for research, led by the national charity, to find out how prone people with mental health problems are to becoming victims of crime, and how they can be better supported throughout the criminal justice system.

The study will build on research from 20072, which found that people with mental health problems suffer high rates of victimisation. It also found that reporting a crime is really difficult for people with mental health issues because of tensions with the police and poor mental health awareness across agencies.

Angela Antonatos of Victim Support, who is leading the research, said: "We know how devastating the consequences of becoming a victim of crime can be.
However, the additional stress and trauma for people who suffer with mental health problems, and the issues they have in dealing with the criminal justice system, can add to this devastation. We need to make sure that these victims have as much help and support as possible, to suit their needs, hence the need for this research.

"We are really pleased that the Big Lottery Fund has awarded us a grant for this three-year study. We hope it will raise awareness of the fact that people with mental health problems are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of crime. The study will give them
a 'voice', highlighting their experiences as victims and improving their access to justice."

Victim Support will work with Mind, the Institute of Psychiatry and St George's University of London at Kingston University, to research the issue.

Anna Bird, policy and campaigns manager at Mind, said: "We know from our previous research that people with mental health problems face alarming levels of victimisation in the community.

Our initial findings revealed that the justice system is often inaccessible to victims who have experience of mental distress, and they can feel that they have no choice but to suffer in silence.

Victim Support's work will reveal the true extent of the problem so that victims with mental distress are no longer swept under the carpet, and we are delighted to be working with them to help deliver real change for the people behind the statistics."

The findings will help influence policy and educate other agencies who work with this group of people, about the support they need.

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