Inmates who suffer from mental health conditions are a particularly vulnerable group in prisons and reveal a complex array of needs, especially when it comes to the protection of their rights and the provision of appropriate care.
Up to 65% of prisoners have a mental health disorder, ranging from personality disorders (42–65%) to major depression (10–12%) to psychotic illnesses (4%), including schizophrenia, manic episodes and delusional disorder; these are the findings of a systematic review of dozens of surveys covering about 23 000 prisoners from twelve countries worldwide.
All inmates are at risk of developing a mental disability while in prison and factors such as overcrowding, various forms of violence, enforced solitude or lack of privacy, social isolation and inadequate health services are just some predictors that have a harmful effect on the mental well-being of most prisoners. Furthermore, mental disorders represent a serious risk factor for suicide, which is the leading cause of death among prisoners.
It is known that female inmates are more likely than men to suffer from mental illness and addictions, often as a result of domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse. Besides, imprisonment has a particularly harmful effect on women, which may lead to anxiety disorders, depression and even foster some serious mental disabilities.
Due to their condition, mentally ill inmates are a particularly vulnerable group in prisons and reveal a complex array of needs, especially when it comes to the protection of their rights and the provision of appropriate care. Prisoners with mental health impairments are generally ill-equipped to survive in environment of prisons, and their condition most often deteriorates in the absence of adequate health care and appropriate psychosocial support.
Even in prison, the equivalence of mental health care should be the same available in the community, although in prisons those inmates are frequently treated only with medication to manage the symptoms of their mental disabilities, instead of being treated with inter-disciplinary care and supervision that their mental diseases require.
Our services’ offer regarding this matter include:
- mental health policy and strategy advising;
- conceptualization and deployment of integrated multi-disciplinary prison mental health care solutions, articulated with community services;
- awareness-raising campaigns and training courses for prison staff, inmates and their families;
- gender-specific mental health care;
- implementation of measurable standards, and monitoring and evaluation tools;
- specialized pre-release planning to better ensure successful transition into the community.