To manage most crimes, the basics and foundations of a community and its society need to be provided for effectively

By Psychotherapist Mertha Mo Nyamande

This week on the Sunday Express digital – we tackle the issue of Mental Health and Crime. Mental health and crime fall into the concept of forensic psychology and psychiatry. This is where specialist trained clinicians assess the individual’s state of mind at the time an offence was committed.

This is usually the offence that the individual would have been prosecuted for, often referred to as the Index Offence.

For most crimes, when are assessed closely, it is often established that the offences were committed when the cognitions of the individual were altered for several reasons.

There are what are referred to as the passions of crime, where the emotional aspect of the relationship between the parties become overwhelming that the offender cannot think beyond the emotions that they feel because of whatever they may have thought in a particular situation.

When an offence has been committed, it is usually assumed that everyone has full capacity unless indicated otherwise, therefore steps need to be taken to provide due diligence and process to ensure that the individual receives the right disposal to reduce, deter or eliminate reoffending; whether treatment or punishment for the offence, in certain cases, an element of both may be instituted.



The individual would require specialist assessment in a safe and secure environment before this can be established. Where the individual having committed an offence under temporary incapacitation, treatment may need to be facilitated first for the individual to be fit to stand trial.

If the assessment indicates a lack of capacity before or during the act, indefinite time may be granted for the treatment or containment away from the penal system, thereby disposal through the insanity or mental health act may be appropriate.

It is essential for societies to understand that crimes and punishments are not as simple as the emotional reasoning that a person has been killed and therefore the sentence should be a prison.

We really cannot just surrender our best talents and lives to satanism, evil spirits and witchcraft, for there is often a fine line between madness and genius.

Notable inventors were once detained in mental institutions due to how their talents are often marginalised and criminalised because of poor understanding and emotional reasoning, which often ruin the developments.


Our wounded and dependent communities are often too ready to resign such selfish, heinous, and violent acts to evil spirits, satanism, or witchcraft; overlooking patterns of behaviour that may exist or predispositions causing the vulnerability.

The latter is the fundamental aspect of the person/individual’s mental state – whatever it is that gives the person such courage to carry out such acts. It often takes special circumstances for a human being to kill or maim another, regardless of the circumstances – wars included.



Therefore, most foot soldiers are recruited from deprived and desperate backgrounds; the more the damage to the psych, the better the soldier, in particular the special forces.

It takes a certain personality type of an individual often desperate to be willing to be trained to be a killing machine.

The role of a trained soldier in the military is to protect civilians and subdue the enemy while taking POWs of their captured military adversaries for interrogation.

Wars in themselves are games with a set of rules, hence most wars are ended not on the battlefield, but in air-conditioned rooms by men wearing suits, drinking mineral water, who place little regard to those affected and traumatised.

When these rules are not followed, the element of war crimes is instituted and pursued.


All crime needs to be understood and intent established before being judged, punished or corrected, in any rehabilitative ways, for crime consumes any, if not all productivity. However, criminology asserts crime as a functional aspect of society, therefore could crime be created or invented to maintain a system of society?



For without crime, there will be no need for courts, judges, lawyers, police, prisons and to some extent doctors and medicine, forensic accountants, banks and other security apparatus.

It then becomes complex how we may neglect certain elements of society that maintains this criminal element functional and effective, in particular mental health.

With altered mental states become corresponding behaviours likely to be at odds with various laws in our governed systems.

Paranoia, (strongly associated with mental health issues including substance misuse), fuel crime in most spheres, with greed and self-esteem issues legging not far behind. As charity begins at home, could families be the brewing grounds for crime?

Remedies and recommendations

To manage most crimes, the basics and foundations of a community and its society need to be provided for effectively, more than focus on the individual.



Poor provisions for the family, which makes the core element of society creates for a wide range of criminal behaviours, from GBV including sexual exploitation, violence, theft including some moral problems, bordering prostitution and other vagrant behaviours.

As a society, there is need to open more platforms to have these critical conversations that challenge the things that we regard as religion, culture, or tradition that in themselves contribute to the problems that amount to criminal behaviour.

More playgrounds for the children and green spaces as well as community spaces are also essential to establish cohesion alongside community psychologists. It becomes difficult to unite a nation when there are little to no provisions for local unification.

All criminal cases, particularly where life or limb has been lost should first be assessed to ascertain the “compus mentus” of the offender before the case can be referred for prosecution, as standard.


Article by Psychotherapist Mertha Mo Nyamande @