In this article, we’re exploring the psychological toll of criminal allegations and the impact on mental health.
If you’ve been following the UK Post Office scandal, you’ll have heard first-hand accounts of how devastating a criminal allegation can be. Criminal defence lawyers say that being faced with a criminal allegation can have a huge impact on a person’s finances, employment prospects and health.
In this article, we’re taking a look at the psychological toll of criminal allegations in order to understand the impact on mental health.
What Do Criminal Allegations Entail?
This is the term used when a person or organisation accuses you of committing a crime under UK law. This accusation will generally be directed to either the police or a court of law with a view to making you accountable for a crime.
It’s important to understand that an allegation is just that – it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will subsequently be charged with that crime.
What to do if You Face a Criminal Allegation
When a criminal allegation is made against you, the next stage will usually be an investigation – this is where the police or other authority will attempt to discover the facts of the case, and this will often include formal interviews with yourself and others.
When somebody makes an allegation against you, it’s extremely important that you gather as much documentation and evidence as you possibly can to help your case. You will also need to secure the services of a criminal defence solicitor who will be able to advise you as well as accompanying you during police interviews.
While it is possible to represent yourself and waive your right to counsel, this is generally not recommended. Depending on the evidence presented, the police will then make the decision to either charge you or dismiss the case. If charged, this may mean that you will then need to undergo a trial.
The Psychological Toll of Criminal Allegations
Being accused of a crime can have a huge impact on your mental health – particularly if you believe yourself to be innocent of the crime – and, in this section, we’re taking a look at some of the ways in which this can affect your mental health:
When somebody makes a criminal allegation against you, this can, of course, be extremely worrying. As well as the uncertainty about what might happen to you, there will also often be concerns about your future earnings which may impact your financial responsibilities such as a mortgage or childcare.
In some cases, the investigation following a criminal allegation can take a significant amount of time, during which you will feel that you are being left in limbo. Depending on the nature of your employment, you may also face suspension pending the investigation. For example, if you work with children or vulnerable adults.
When you’re accused of committing a crime, it can change the way you see yourself as well as the way others see you and this can lead to depression; a condition which can have a knock-on effect on your physical health and prevent you from functioning as you normally would.
Unfortunately, as we’ve seen with some of those involved in the Post Office scandal, this can sometimes, tragically, result in suicide if not treated.
Looking After Your Mental Health Amidst a Criminal Allegation
Taking care of your mental health during criminal allegations is incredibly important and, in this section, we’re sharing advice on how to do just that:
It’s natural that the allegation will be playing on your mind but try not to let it take over your entire life. Where possible, put aside a chunk of time every day to focus on the case and then do your best to put it out of your mind for the rest of the day.
While this may be easier said than done, this can really help to keep your day to day life as normal as possible.
Taking a walk or taking part in an outdoor activity is a great way of clearing your head and gaining some perspective on the issue. Even a brisk walk during your lunch hour can help to restore some equilibrium and activate your feel-good endorphins which can help to lift your mood.
Seek Professional Help
If you feel that your mental health is suffering significantly during the case and you’re struggling to cope, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Your GP or your local council should be able to point you in the direction of a good counsellor who will be able to help you to sort through your feelings and gain some perspective.
Dealing with a criminal allegation…
There’s no doubt that a criminal allegation is a serious issue and should be treated as such but protecting your mental health is equally important. Make sure that you have a great criminal defence lawyer on your side to help alleviate your fears and help you to build a strategy.
Additionally, if you do feel that things are getting on top of you, there’s absolutely no shame in speaking with a professional – after all, that’s what they’re there for!
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