THE BLOG

Mental Health Care in Prisons Must Improve

17/12/2015 15:00 GMT | Updated 16/12/2016 10:12 GMT

The prison services in the United Kingdom have over 85,000 inmates. With just under 82,000 of them being men with women making up around 4000 of the prison population.

There is one big issue that needs to be solved and the government hasn't found the answer yet, higher and higher numbers of prisoners suffer from one or more mental health issue and the root causes are not being examined closely enough.

According to the prison reform trust; 10% of men and 30% of women have had some level of a mental health difficulty before entering prison. They also found that more than 20% of women and 15% of men in prison had varying symptoms of psychosis. Prison simply isn't the place for these people.

According to young minds; 95% of young offenders have one or more mental health issue, This staggering figure shows that so many young kids are being pushed into prison institutions instead of getting mental health support and in my opinion many young people with mental health issues shouldn't even be in prison.

The final figure is for veterans being in-prisoned, a study found that ex-servicemen are making up almost 10% of the prison population. I would argue a minority of these veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) They need support and compassion not prison.

These astounding statistics make it clear we need to revolutionise mental health care in prisons.

The various ideas of the past simply haven't worked, even though Chris Grayling former minister for justice tried to introduce mental health facilities into prisons to no avail. Now new minister for justice Michael Gove needs to start implementing a clear plan for change.

The fact that some ex-prisoners have described prisons "as like the old asylums," sums up the issues facing our prison system. Using prisons as holding cells for some of our most vulnerable people and the mentally ill is simply not the answer.

I talked to one ex-young offender which told me "if I was to rate the quality of care for my mental health issues in prison i would rate it 0 out 10, simply no help whatsoever was given to me. This meant it took longer for me to rehabilitate myself back into my community on my release" this shows clearly that more needs to be done for the mentally ill in prisons.

In my opinion the only solution to this catastrophic problem is specialist mental health facilities in prisons. Looking firstly at young offenders institutions. If successful in reducing reoffending and most importantly suicide in prisons then the idea would be to continue a plan of implantation into our adult prisons.

This in my opinion would see a reduced level of reoffending which would not only save money for the country's purse but also it would lead to better rehabilitation back into the community.

The key aims over the next five years should be the following:

1. Introduce mental health care into young offenders institutions.

2. Create better communication networks between local mental health trusts and prisons.

3. Look to reduce the levels of suicide within prisons.

These three aims could change lives.

We simply can not have prison services without mental health care implemented at the heart. In the 21st century lets back rehabilitation and treatment instead of what's going on at the moment.