In depth - mental health and social care

contents of a desk in a prison cell with a pill box, razor, lighter, cigarette ash and a food plate

Many people in prison have mental health problems and/or learning disabilities or difficulties. 72% of men and 70% of women sentenced to immediate custody suffer from two or more mental health disorders. 20-30% of offenders have learning disabilities or difficulties that interfere with their ability to cope with the criminal justice system.

Prison Reform Trust has done much work to raise awareness of the condition and experiences of people in prison with mental health needs or learning disabilities or difficulties. PRT has long advocated diversion to more appropriate treatment and support, and has pressed government to improve treatment of those who are in custody.

It is only through hearing personal stories that the true cost of lack of support and care can be felt. Here we present a few accounts from individuals and close family members that reveal what can happen when people do not receive the treatment and support they need and are entitled to.

Alongside these personal accounts are an overview of the situation by PRT director Juliet Lyon, various PRT reports, and an academic article examining the complex area of dual diagnosis.

Independent voice

Sue Foreman's account of her son Martin's life reveals what can happen when someone with complex needs slips through the nets of different services and ends up in the criminal justice system.  

Independent voice

Diane Morgan tells of her experience of being depressed while in prison, and the help she eventually found in an unexpected place.

Audio - independent voice

A mother talks on Woman's Hour about her son's suicide in prison.

Audio - PRT director Juliet Lyon

Juliet talks at a seminar on mental health and criminal justice organised by the Centre for Public Policy Seminars.

Independent research

Dr Ian Paylor, Senior Lecturer in Applied Social Science at Lancaster University, discusses the lack of a concerted service response to dual diagnosis in the UK.

Prisoners' voices

PRT's publication as part of the No One Knows research programme, looks at the experiences of the criminal justice system by prisoners with learning disabilities and difficulties.

To read more about the No One Knows programme and download reports click here

Too little too late

Recent PRT research provides an independent review of unmet mental health need in prison as identified by Independent Monitoring Boards.

More facts and figures about mental health and learning disability or difficulty in prison can be found in the Bromley Briefings prison factfile.

Troubled inside

This series of reports looks at the mental health needs of men, women and children in prison. The reports reveal the extent of the mental health needs of people in prison and exposes the gaps between improved policy and still bleak practice.

Troubled inside: children
Troubled inside: women
Troubled inside: men