13 December 2018

Zimbabwe: New Gun Laws Require Psychiatric Evaluation

analysis

Mental illnesses are very common: nearly one in five people experience clinical depression during their lives; one in five experience an anxiety disorder; one in 100 experience schizophrenia, the general population experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

People who have had higher exposure to trauma, violence and warfare such as veterans have higher rates of PTSD which go up to 30 percent.

Not all mental illnesses may be a risk of harm to others.

In the majority of cases, when a patient is involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric inpatient unit, it is not because the person is a risk to others; rather, it is more often the case that the person is at risk of harming themselves, as in the case of a depressed or suicidal patient.

In psychiatric disorders, concerns about harm to others typically arise in acutely psychotic patients with paranoid delusions that convince them to harm others.

This may happen in, but is not limited to schizophrenia, dementia, severe psychotic depression or psychotic bipolar illness.

Substance use, which can increase the risk of crime or psychosis, can also lead to intentions to harm others.

Another situation when a person could be at risk to harm others is when that person has personality disorders with a high level of impulsivity or lack of remorse.

But the reality is that most people with personality disorders do not seek treatment and are not known to mental health providers.

Psychiatric assessments for gun carriers are very difficult and cannot be done hurriedly.

Not all psychiatric diagnoses lead to risk of violence like phobia of cats or spiders for example.

Most of the assessments are done on the carrier without collateral history from the spouses' close family and or friends.

The account of their behaviour is important, as humans are creatures of habit.

This does not, however, make every assessment perfect as some will pass the assessment, but have violent tendencies.

But due to the general increase of gun violence, it is a prudent evaluation to do to make sure we have mentally stable individuals.

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