Week 8 – Prisons and Mental Illness

Mapping the Prison Mental Health Workforce in Australia

Prison populations are growing in Australia and the need for Mental Health services is growing along with it.  Services are delivered by a complex mix of government and non-government services and overall are under resourced. Prisons are an environment with a higher level and of mental disorders and higher levels of stress and should have a coordinated approach for prisoners re-entering the community (Page 442).

There are no national standards for the provision of mental health in services in prisons (p.443).  The response to the provision varies between the states.  There were also a number of clinical positions vacant however all states provided either registrar consultant psychiatrists (p.443). Provision of services responds to differing legislation between the States.  Compared to International Standards (Sainsbury Centre) Australian services are significantly under resourced.  Prison services are the responsibility of the State and do not attract Medicare funding which may improve the level if it was the case (Page 444).

In order to maximise the potential of the Mental Health services all positions should be filled, which is not the case (Page 445).

Increasing prison populations and limited information on service provision indicates the need for nationally comparable data (Page 446).

Reference: Davidson, F., B. Clugston, M. Perrin, M. Williams, E. Heffernan, & S. Kinner. (2020). Mapping the prison mental health workforce in Australia.  Australian Psychiatry, Vol. 28 (4). Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.  Pages 442-447.