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Mental Health In Prisons by Sophie Walker

Article by: Sophie Walker, crime and prison law barrister at One Pump Court

My work in the criminal justice system stretches from cradle to grave: I work with pregnant women and new mothers facing custodial sentences, young defendants in youth offender institutions and older prisoners who have spent decades inside. I also represent bereaved families at inquests whose loved ones have died in prison or while on probation, as a result of mental health issues. If there is one thing that unites these people, it is that they entered the criminal justice system in poor mental health, and left it worse.  

I was recently instructed in an inquest on behalf of a family whose loved one died on the day of his release. A report from his treating psychiatrist in prison outlined his reasons for prescribing him a strong anti-psychotic drug during his prison sentence. They explained that it is common for prisoners to start experiencing psychosis despite not having any underlying mental health disorders like schizophrenia. In other words, the experience of incarceration can seriously impact a prisoner’s mental health. 

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Bean pastie: While working with Food Matters, HMP Wandsworth has reduced the amount of processed food and introduced more vegetable and fish dishes cooked from scratch

Food can impact on a prisoner's behaviour, health and even chance of rehabilitation. Here Helen Sandwell, Project Lead at Food Matters Inside & Out, explains how…

The Food Matters Inside and Out project is run by the charity Food Matters. It aims to change food systems within prisons and, in doing so, enable prisoners to make healthier food choices. The project was piloted at HMP Wandsworth and is currently at HMP High Down.

Various factors need to be in place for an individual to make heathier food choices. Not only do the food choices available to them need to be health-promoting and affordable, but also the person needs to have sufficient knowledge, attitude and intent to eat that food.

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Health & Justice Summit Liverpool

This two-day summit is the sixth event of its kind, jointly organised by the RCGP Secure Environments Group, Broadmoor, Ashworth, and Rampton high secure hospitals, Spectrum, Care UK, NHS England, Martindale Pharma, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, HMP Berwyn, West London NHS Trust and Mersey Care NHS Trust.

Following on from the successful event in Glasgow in 2017, the summit will focus on ‘Continuity of Care – safety through continuity’. There is a need to embolden the links between primary and secondary care for people resident in secure settings and the summit organisers are looking to showcase examples of good practice on how organisations can improve on care transition to the community.

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Mind charity at Emergency Services Show

Following the Emergency Services Show at the NEC in September, we spoke to Mahbu Rahman, Blue Light Programme Manager at Mind charity, about mental health issues among police officers...

A recent Mind survey of over 1,000 current or former staff or volunteers within the police force found that 93% had experienced stress, low mood and poor mental health at some point while working for the emergency services. Over 61% had experienced a mental health problem – such as depression, anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia – while working or volunteering in their current or previous role.