EUPRIS – Treatment of mentally ill or disordered persons in European prison systems – Service provision and outcomes

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Publication Date 2008
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Mental disorders in prison are a serious worldwide increasing problem, which is fed by several sources. In the United States, prisons are estimated to house twice as many persons constantly with serious mental disorders as do mental hospitals. European prison systems are also faced with a large number of mentally ill prisoners. Older studies estimated about 12 % of the prisoners being in need of psychiatric treatment. A recent WHO-Study provided information from 13 European countries. Although having assessed ambiguous and incomplete data, it suggested that none of the 13 investigated prison systems had sufficient mental health care resources available to meet the needs of persons concerned.
Detailed data describing the current situation of mentally ill persons and identifying factors contributing to their increasing imprisonment and scrutinizing side-effects of prison sentences that may contribute to the mental ill-health of prison inmates is of major concern. However, details of the problem dimension or the quantity of missing care resources are unknown. Besides the individual suffering of persons concerned, the situation imposes a heavy financial and public health burden not only on societies in transition but on established European Union Member States as well.

Adequately meeting the psychological and mental health care needs of mentally disordered prisoners is important for primary and secondary prevention of mental ill-health, and might contribute substantially to a better social integration after release from prison.

This study provides essential information for this purpose. It gathers structured information on the current state and routine practices in the EU-Member States and additional countries participating in the study, resulting in an thorough overview of the issue, a description of the most crucial information deficits as well as in the identification of models of best practice.

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