The studies aren't conclusive but some seem to suggest those with mental health diagnoses tend to be treated differently by police officers.

For example, Watson, Corrigan Ottti report that

Teplin, Pruett and Teplin found that officers are more likely to arrest subjects with a mental illness

in the introduction of their paper.

There are lots of mental health diagnoses which are very common and should not be relevant to most situations like people with depression and OCD.

If asked about mental health issues, is it okay to deny having them, or to not answer the question?

  • If one has a formal, clinical diagnosis that is being treated (with therapy, meds, etc.) and that is documented in health records or current/past legal proceedings, it's a good idea to be factual about it with law enforcement. Jan 2 '18 at 0:01
  • That is an inaccurate (broad) statement to conclude from their study. The study itself only ever identified schizophrenia as the sample mental disorder. There's no saying how a police officer might respond to a person with a different mental disorder. You can't choose one disorder for a study and apply it to all disorders equally, e.g. it's highly unreasonable to suspect a police officer would react to someone with schizophrenia the same as someone with OCD.
    – animuson
    Jan 2 '18 at 5:47

You have the right to remain silent ...

So begins the Miranda warning required to be given by US police officers before they arrest you. Police in every other liberal western democracy are required to issue a similar warning (even though the obligation is not as prescriptive as in the US).

The right to silence extends to interactions before an arrest although no warning has to be given.

Shut up, comply with directions and ask for a lawyer.

Incidentally, the journal article linked does not say that people with a mental illness are more likely to be arrested. It actually says:

... differences ... between officers receiving information that Steve had schizophrenia and those who did not suggest only one difference that met ... criteria for significance. Officers receiving mental illness information were more likely to indicate that they would contact a mental health agency than those who did not.


... differences ... between officers receiving information that Steve had schizophrenia and those who did not suggested no statistical significance.

  • @Bob what you have quoted is not what these researchers found, it is a summary of what other researchers found. The statistical analysis (flawed or not) is not relevant to simply reporting their literature survey. Also, the very next sentence cites a different paper that found the opposite outcome - that police officers are less likely to make an arrest when they know of mental illness.
    – Dale M
    Jan 2 '18 at 21:50
  • I am confused about your comment on outliers - I can’t see where the authors mentioned them and given the structure of the study and the statistical tools used (which, as a person who has taught business statistics at a postgraduate level, seem appropriate) I can’t see how they arise.
    – Dale M
    Jan 2 '18 at 22:06
  • Statistics are also not applicable to individual cases - dice follow the law of large numbers only when you roll a lot of them. With particular reference to medical side effects (my sympathies), these are not in general random outcomes in a given individual, they are the result of that person”s particularly physiology and chemistry which is relatively stable - if you have side effects you will probably always have side effects. For comparison, you have about a 10% chance of being left handed, however, if you are right handed today you don’t have a 10% chance of being left handed tomorrow.
    – Dale M
    Jan 2 '18 at 22:17
  • My understanding of statistics isn't great for you are right. It has been many years since I took the intro course. I have given you an upvote but unfortunately it can't be seen. I do appreciate you trying to explain more. Mental health has a stigma so I am sometimes react very rash.
    – Bob
    Jan 3 '18 at 2:12
  • Do not just shut up: assert your 5th amendment right to silence. Prior to arrest, anything you don't say may be used against you. See the concept of "adoptive admission".
    – user6726
    Jan 3 '18 at 21:48

Lying to the police is a bad idea. It could be considered obstruction. See, for example, 18 USC § 1001 which makes lying to federal officials a felony. Individual states may or may not have similar laws.

You could probably simply refuse to answer the question in most cases.

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