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The Mental Health Effects Of Doing Time

  • Estimates suggest there are over 10 million people in the UK - that’s one in 7 of the adult population - with a criminal record.
  • 33 per cent of male and 51 per cent of female prisoners suffer from depression, in the general population that figure is 9 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.

Prison environments in London are disastrous for mental health – however, leaving prison can be as traumatic as entering. Probation services are struggling to handle the mental health needs of their service users.

The London Assembly Health Committee is due to publish its findings on 14 September on providing better mental health support for prisoners and ex-offenders. The report recommends:

The Mayor should:

  • ensure that the Thrive LDN programme works proactively with London’s prison and probation services
  • specifically target the people being released from prison as a high risk group for suicide and self-harm, as part of the suicide prevention strand of the Thrive LDN programme
  • work with partners on a London-wide drive to improve GP registration for people leaving prison, to improve early access to mental health support
  • explicitly highlight the housing needs of this group as part of his Housing Strategy and homelessness programmes

The Mayor and MOPAC should:

  • prioritise the piloting, evaluation and roll out of mental health triage teams across London
  • set out how the new Female Offender Service will be designed to improve mental health support and how success will be monitored

Dr Onkar Sahota AM, Chair of the Health Committee, said: 

“Our investigation paints a grim picture of a growing population of people who are falling through the net in terms of mental health support. London urgently needs to find alternatives to prison sentences and support rehabilitation in the community. 

For ex-offenders, getting them into housing, employment and medical services improves mental health prospects and reduces the risk of reoffending.

The Mayor is strongly placed to press for reform and to support changes to transform the mental health outlook for ex-offenders. It’s shocking that such a major health inequality exists for prisoners and offenders here in the capital.”