Prisoners with mental health difficulties need better help following release from both health and probation services, according to a report published today by Centre for Mental Health.

From prison to work: A new frontier for Individual Placement and Support reports on a pilot programme in the West Midlands to support prisoners with mental health difficulties into employment when they are released. The programme sought to employ the proven Individual Placement and Support approach from mental health services to the criminal justice system for the first time. It enabled people who would otherwise have had little prospect of paid work to get jobs when they were released from prison as well as providing help with basic needs such as housing and health.

From Prison to Work finds that the Individual Placement and Support approach can be adapted successfully to support prisoners to get work when they are released. It calls on the Government to invest in a larger scale trial of IPS for former prisoners and to reform existing employment services in the criminal justice system.

The report also found that few of the people who had been in contact with prison mental health services as a result of complex needs and vulnerabilities were supported by community mental health services after their release. And many former prisoners got scant help with housing or money despite leaving prison with nowhere to live and no income. It calls on the NHS and probation services to offer more effective, holistic support to former prisoners to support their rehabilitation.

Report author Dr Graham Durcan said:

The vast majority of prisoners have complex and often lifelong mental health difficulties. For many, having somewhere to live and a job are the basic building blocks of effective rehabilitation after prison. Yet few get that chance. We have shown that IPS can give people a better chance in life when they leave prison. And we are calling on the Government to take action now to ensure prisoners get effective help through the gates to get jobs and homes and enjoy better mental health.


Read the report here