Most young men in gangs 'suffer psychiatric illness'

Members are four times more likely to suffer from psychosis than young men who are not, say researchers

Social Affairs Correspondent

The majority of young men in gangs are suffering from some kind of psychiatric illness, landmark research published today shows.

Gang members are four times more likely to suffer from psychosis than young men who are not in gangs, figures adjusted for social context reveal. More than 4,600 men aged 18 to 34 were surveyed in areas of Britain with high gang membership by Queen Mary University, London.

The study looked into levels of psychiatric illness, violence and gang membership. Of those who claimed to be members of gangs, a quarter screened positive for psychosis and 85.8 per cent had an antisocial personality disorder. Around a third of these had attempted suicide and more than half had an anxiety disorder.

Substance abuse was also prolific amongst gang members, with two thirds suffering from alcohol dependency and 57 per cent addicted to drugs.

Professor Jeremy Coid, director of the Forensic Psychiatry Research Unit at Queen Mary, and lead author of the paper, said: "No research has previously investigated whether gang violence is related to psychiatric illness, other than substance misuse, or if it places a burden on mental health services. Here we have shown unprecedented levels among this group, identifying a complex public health problem at the intersection of violence, substance misuse, and mental health problems among young men."

He said the study should inform the way that potential gang members were helped. "With street gangs becoming increasingly evident in UK cities, membership should be routinely assessed in young men presenting to healthcare services with psychiatric illness in urban areas with high levels of gang activity."

More than 27 per cent of all the men surveyed said they had been violent or involved in a fight in the last five years. Some 2.1 per cent - or 108 of them - were gang members.

Overall around one per cent of British men aged 18 to 34 are gang members. This rises to 8.6 per cent in the London borough of Hackney, where one in five black men reported gang membership.

Reacting to the research, published today in the American Journal Of Psychiatry, Sean Duggan, chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health, said: "Young people involved in gangs have too often experienced life-long mental ill health and vulnerability, some of which could have been prevented through effective early intervention. Today's study is a reminder of the vulnerabilities that lead many young people toward gang activity."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible