Spending on prison mental health care

27 May 2008

Prison inreach teams aim to provide the specialist mental health services to people in prison that are provided by community-based mental health teams for the population at large. But inreach teams have been hindered by limited resourcing, constraints imposed by the prison environment, difficulties in ensuring continuity of care and wide variations in local practice.

Short-changed analysed public spending on mental health care in prisons in 2008. It compared spending between regions, types of prisons and in comparison with other health care in prisons and with mental health spending in the community.

It found that the level of need for mental health care in prisons was particularly high, because of the much greater prevalence of mental illness, especially severe mental illness, among prisoners than among people of working age in the general population. And while more was spent per head on mental health care in prisons than in the wider community, this was not nearly enough to accommodate this much higher level of need.

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