The experience with and/or fear of violence has been linked to chronic illness, mental illness, and learning ability. The Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth (UNITY), which operates out of the Prevention Institute in California, has recently published fact sheets outlining key information on these relationships.
Violence has long-term effects on the overall physical health status of individuals, families and communities. These include asthma, significant alteration of healthy eating and physical activity, heart disease and hypertension, ulcers, and gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, neurological and musculoskeletal diseases, and lung disease.
Violence has implications for mental and emotional health as well. Research shows that certain mental health conditions are more prevalent in those exposed directly or indirectly to violence. These include depression and risk for suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder, and aggressive and/or violent behaviour disorders.
Also, the ability to learn is affected by violence at the community, individual, and institutional levels. Impacts include disruption of social networks, a build up of stress, and anxiety that affects the ability to concentrate and focus. Violence also creates an environment of fear that impairs the ability to maintain quality professionals in educational institutions.
Key areas to incorporate violence prevention with healthy living are outlined in the fact sheets. These include: creating safe spaces; promoting community development and employment; and fostering social cohesion. Strategies that can reduce violence and prevent certain mental health conditions include: fostering social connections in neighbourhoods; promoting adequate employment opportunities; and nurturing positive emotional and social development. Schools can address these issues by monitoring the social climate, addressing bullying, implementing conflict resolution strategies, and developing relationships with other community resources for family outreach/support.
For more information on “Fact Sheets: Links between Violence and Chronic Diseases, Mental Illness and Poor Learning” visitwww.preventioninstitute.org.