The Mental Health Scandal in Prisons Being Ignored

 3rd Aug 2016

Severe mental health problems in prisons are continually being ignored by senior officials despite media coverage of recent events.

Issues such as suicide, self-harm and substance abuse are permeating through many prisons in the UK and have even gone so far as to cause unrest within Wormwood Scrubs.

Fifty staff at the west London facility vacated the premises last month, stating they were felt unsafe working in the prison.

Prison Officers Association (POA) member Mike Rolfe claimed the prison is “flooded” with mobile phones, drugs and weapons.

These are causing serious problems amongst inmates including violence and suicide, and are also having a knock on effect for staff at the prison.

Around 100 suicides were recorded inside UK prisons between March 2015 and March 2016 which is a 26% increase over the previous year.

Despite a 2009 report produced by Lord Bradley on mental health issues in the justice system, the past six years have also seen a 21% rise in self-harm.

These shocking statistics highlight the severity of the matter at hand – one which Michael Gove has failed to address.

The Justice Secretary has expressed his concerns on mental health in prisons and the need for educational rehabilitation but has failed to make progress in these areas.

The government has however announced plans to enhance liaison and diversion services across the country to help criminals living with mental health illnesses.

These services provide police stations and courts with mental health nurses in an effort to improve the treatment given to those in need.

The Justice Select committee has also recommended the creation of a report which outlines the most important issues faced within prisons and what action needs to be taken.

Understaffing is another critical problem which must be addressed in order to keep prisons running effectively and ensure the protection of all inmates and staff.

Recent events show how the growing problem of mental health in the UK has extended to the prison environment and is failing to be addressed properly.

The lives of prisoners and staff at Wormwood Scrubs and many other prisons in the country continue to be placed at risk as a result of poor monitoring and insufficient staff.

Restructuring needs to take place in order to truly make changes to the way prisons are run in the UK as the current state is simply not acceptable.

Encompass is a registered charity which provides a wide range of person-centred care services for people living with mental health illnesses and learning disabilities including respite care, day care support and support at home.

Find out how the encompass team can help you or a loved one by clicking here.

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