Prisons: mental health institutions of the 21st century?

Mental health Prisons Australia

Australian remand centres often contain more seriously mentally ill people than general hospital mental health inpatient units. However, it is unclear whether the apparent rise in prevalence of mental illness among prisoners reflects a genuine increase or an improvement in detection rates. Statistical modelling of the effect of deinstitutionalisation on the number of prisoners with mental health problems is fraught with methodological challenges and the absence of longitudinal data.5 This debate has tended to overshadow other major areas of concern about mental illness among prisoners.6 As Herrman et al pointed out 15 years ago, whatever the cause, services for people with mental illness in Australian prisons are inadequate and in need of urgent reform.

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