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Radicalization May Be Linked To Mental Health Problems

A new police study found that about one-half of people feared to be at risk for joining terrorist groups may have mental health or psychological problems.

The study looked at 500 cases dealt with under the de-radicalization program, Channel, and found that 44 percent of all individuals involved who were studied were assessed as "being likely to have vulnerabilities related to mental health or psychological difficulties," The Guardian reports.

Channel, a de-radicalization program in the U.K., aims to provide support to individuals identified as being vulnerable to joining terrorist groups.

"There is a thing about vulnerable individuals who need some help and support to make the right decisions because they are not very well," said Chief Constable Simon Cole.

Cole said some of the referrals to Channel cited "grand cause politics" as the motive but upon further investigation discovered "more prosaic" reasons for their ideologies, such as that they feel marginalized by society, the Evening Standard reports.

He added that other factors behind radicalization include "some sort of glamor, some sort of position in society." Terrorist groups, such as ISIS and al-Qaida, make heavy use of the Internet to target potentially vulnerable individuals.

"Is there an opportunity for people who want to prey on vulnerable people to find them in a way they could not in the past? Absolutely yes, there is," said Cole.

Professor Kamaldeep Bhui, a psychiatric expert, said disorders that may raise the possibility of joining a terror group include depression, anxiety and psychosis.

"There are some people for whom it is a political cause and for them it is a rational act," he said. "For some, they are easily persuaded to join such groups. At some level, there has to be a psychological commitment to violence. There needs to be more research and sensible safeguarding. Some are psychologically vulnerable to to join terrorist groups or participate in them."

Sources: The Guardian, Evening Standard / Photo credit: The Sun

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