Prisons are ill-placed for managing mental illness, a new report from the Prison Reform Trust published today has found.
Staff have profound difficulties coping with mentally ill offenders and the mental health of many prisoners deteriorates while in jail, the study finds.
More than 70 per cent of men in prison suffer from two or more mental disorders, government figures quoted by the charity show.
The report reviews how mentally ill offenders reach prison and are treated there.
“Many men in prison are mentally ill, much of their offending is a public health concern, not a criminal justice one. The solution is not investing in more prisons, but fixing the gaps in mental health care, drug treatment and diversion from police stations and courts to treatment.
”If you had to invent a way to deepen mental health problems and create a health crisis, an overcrowded prison, and particularly the bleak isolation of its segregation unit, would be it,” said Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust.
The charity says mental health services for offenders need urgently to be addressed and matched to the specific needs of particular groups including older people, those with hearing or difficulties.
It calls for an integrated national system of court diversion and liaison schemes, to identify mentally ill people early on in the criminal justice system.
Trouble Inside: responding to the mental health needs of men in prison from:- www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk