Workplace Violence and Mental Illness

Workplace Violence and Mental Illness

Workplace Violence and Mental Illness

Workplace Violence and Mental Illness

Synopsis

Based on routine activities theory, this study examines offender motivation, suitable targets, and lack of guardianship among the mentally ill in violence in the mental health workplace, and hypothesizes that greater amounts of victimization among workers will occur when all three elements are present. The study reports on data gathered directly from employees, both quantitatively and qualitatively, focusing on the daily activities of mental health workers. Empie teaches in the Department of Sociology and Corrections at Minnesota State University. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Excerpt

Since the 1980s, workplace violence has gained widespread attention (Laden & Schwartz, 2000; Southerland, Collins, & Scarborough, 1997). The issue of violence in the workplace came into the spotlight after a series of violent incidents occurred at postal facilities in the United States. One of the earlier cases involved a U.S. Postal worker named Patrick Sherill. Sherill killed fourteen people and wounded six others while on the job. This was followed by more violence by U.S. postal employees, resulting in 34 deaths and approximately 2,000 incidents of assault (including both verbal and physical attacks) (Southerland et al., 1997). The media attention given to these incidences resulted in workplace violence receiving national consideration and subsequently more research interest.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released findings in the early 1990s that detailed the magnitude of the problem. Examining death certificates from 1980 to 1989, it was found that 7,600 employees were the victims of a workplace homicide (NIOSH, 1993b). Overall, homicide was the third leading cause of occupational death. National Crime Victimization Survey data from 1992-1996 estimated that over two million violent victimizations occur each year to persons while at work (Warchol, 1998). On average, 14.8 victimizations were experienced per 1000 employees. Some occupations, such as the mental health field, have had higher rates of victimizations occurring in the workplace. For example, in Warchol's (1998) study, mental health professionals experienced 79.5 victimizations per 1000 employees.

While workplace violence research has been given more attention over the last few years, there remains a need to understand how characteristics of specific jobs impact on the likelihood or frequency of . . .

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