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Home Industry News Prisoners’ mental health needs ‘unmet’

Prisoners’ mental health needs ‘unmet’

25th June 2008

The mental health needs of prisoners are not being adequately dealt with, according to a review published today.

The report, published by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, is based on interviews with 98 prisoners in five West Midlands prisons.

It found that the average prisoner has a combination of mental health, substance use and other problems.

Women prisoners suffer especially high levels of distress when they are separated from their children.

And although the report found that specialist prison mental health teams were beginning to make a difference, most prisoners with less severe mental illnesses are not seen by in-reach teams and get little or no help from prison health care.

The report calls for a major rethink of prison mental health services to create greater access for prisoners to psychological therapy.

Graham Durcan, Sainsbury Centre research and development manager and report author, claimed that prisoners’ views “have for too long been ignored”.

“Prisons will never be mental illness-free zones. Prisoners should be offered mental health services that match the severity of their needs,” he added.

Lord Ramsbotham, formerly the chief inspector of prisons in England and Wales, commented: “Sadly prisons are, all too often, used as repositories for those who are neglected and rejected by other services in the community.

“This is not a fit and proper task for prisons and the needs of these neglected people have, until now, been too often ignored. Therefore, because they form such a significant part of current prison populations, their particular needs must be catered for.”

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