Sainsbury Centre: Inmates not receiving crucial mental health care

The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health said today that prisoners who have experienced abuse and trauma are not being offered essential psychiatric services.

In a series of interviews with 98 prisoners who reported having mental health problems, it found very few were being given the opportunity to deal with their emotional problems. Screening for mental health problems was also found to be poor.

Also, many interviewees said that they felt unable to talk about their mental health as they feared bullying and harassment.

The report found that mental ill-health among prisoners “is not the exception, but the rule”. In particular, women suffered high levels of distress after being separated from their children and were more prone to self-harm.

The charity is calling for all prison staff to receive mental health training. Research and development manager Graham Durcan said: “Prisoners should be offered mental health services that match the severity of their needs. This not only needs new investment in improved services but efforts to tackle the customs and practices that are wasteful of resources and that make good quality care hard to achieve.”

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