A leading medical health expert has said more needs to be done to support victims of violent crime as they are at significant risk of developing mental health problems.
Over 300,000 victims of violent crime are treated in hospitals in England and Wales each year. In guidance published this week by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, health experts have argued not enough is being done to address the psychological effects of these crimes, with treatment often only dealing with victims’ physical injuries.
Professor John Shepherd, chair of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Cardiff University, has been involved in research into violent crime injuries and hospital treatment.
Prof Shepherd said: “Having treated people injured by violence for many years, I’m convinced that the mental health problems that are inflicted are often more serious and long-lasting than their physical injuries”.
He went on to say that of the 300,000 victims admitted to hospital for injuries stemming from violent crime, around 40% will go on to suffer mental health problems as a result of their experience. Whilst conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression are common among crime victims, Prof Shepherd said that such mental health problems suffered by crime victims were “often neglected” by health professionals.
The guidance suggests there should be greater collaboration between agencies including GPs, accident and emergency centres and the country’s criminal justice system in order to proactively identify victims suffering mental health problems and offer them the appropriate support.