Mentally ill people in prison

Mentally ill people in prison

I have seen the question posed to people on other sites and forums about mentally ill people in prison, and how they are treated.

Our society today is a lot more aware of mental illness in its various degrees and severity and there seems to be a lot more help for sufferers when diagnosed. I believe that if you look at anyone close enough you could probably diagnose them with some mental illness, we all are different and have different habits, mannerisms and idiosyncrasies which make us all unique.

Anyway writing this from an ex-cons perspective i can confirm that mental illness is a big problem in prisons both for the inmates living alongside people who have a potentially dangerous mental illness and the staff who have no training or very little to deal with such inmates.

The prison reform trust reported that 16% of men and 26% of women said that they had received treatment for a mental illness in the year prior to coming to prison.

25% of women and 16% of men reported symptoms indicative of psychosis. The rate amongst the general public is 4%.  Also suicide is 8.6 times more likely in prison than when at liberty, me personally i believe this figure will be higher.

I could go on writing facts and figures surrounding this issue but for the sake of not boring you to death i will leave the link at the bottom of the page.

Bottom line the prison system probably worldwide is failing these people but the mere fact that they have ended up in prison points to the healthcare system as a wholes failings on mental health and then the courts incarcerating someone who would be more likely helped to lead a more happy conventional lifestyle if they were diagnosed, treated and supported at the earliest opportunity.

Of course there will be cases that slip through any net and others due to the nature of their crimes or severity who will end up in prison or a state hospital but for the most prisons should never be someone with a mental illnesses place of treatment, if they even get any.

I am writing this from an ex-prisoners viewpoint and personal observations as well as chats with prison officers over the last couple of days, this is an everyday problem for them.

The last time i foolishly ended up back in prison i was privy to and involved in one such case.

The prisoner involved had just arrived in HMP Kilmarnock and was mumbling incoherently, covered in self-inflicted scars which was caused by years of self-harm most likely and was projecting and acting quite hostile to both the staff and other inmates. He was asking for his ‘friend’ or to quote ‘ Im looking for my pal ‘ and the staff were at a loss with what to do to help, and were more frustrated that this was this young mans reality.


I myself engaged this young man and managed to make him a tea and engage him in some-sort of conversation, fortunately he was only incarcerated for a matter of weeks and hope fully he received the help he so badly needed in his community.

The amount of preventable suicides i have witnessed over the years is shocking, the full criminal justice system from the bottom up needs overhauled radically, i believe that for any change to work it has to be radical.

Mental illness and its causes are not going anywhere and the full social stigma surrounding it needs addressed and it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help it is a sign of strength.

If you see someone struggling, help and if you are struggling ask for help, a problem shared is a problem halved someone once quoted and i believe this to be true.

From personal experience when you share your problem with someone it is like a weight being lifted and you do feel better for it. If you don’t feel comfy sharing with immediate family or friends hit us up here and either myself or Johnny will listen and help if we can.

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