Mental Health in prisons

Mental health is increasingly being the subject of false allegations as we hear on the FASO helpline as well.

Mental Health Care in Prisons (courtesy johno newsletter) Margaret FASO

  • 26% of women and 16% of men said they had received treatment for a mental health problem in the year before custody.
  • 25% of women and 15% of men in prison reported symptoms indicative of psychosis.The rate among the general public is about 4%.
  • Self-inflicted deaths are 8.6 times more likely in prison than in the general population.
  • 70% of people who died from self-inflicted means whilst in prison had already been identified as having mental health needs.

However, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) found that concerns about mental health problems had only been flagged on entry to the prison for just over half of these people.

The PPO’s investigation found that nearly one in five of those diagnosed with a mental health problem received no care from a mental health professional in prison. The PPO also found that no mental health referral was made when it should have been in 29% of self-inflicted deaths where mental health needs had already been identified. 40% of prisons inspected in 2016–17 had inadequate or no training for prison officers to know when to refer a person for mental health support.

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