Mental health in‐reach teams in English prisons: Aims, processes and impacts

Tom Ricketts (Sheffield Care NHS Trust & ScHARR, University of Sheffield, UK)
Charlie Brooker (CCAWI, University of Lincoln, UK)
Kim Dent‐Brown (ScHARR, University of Sheffield, UK)

International Journal of Prisoner Health

ISSN: 1744-9200

Publication date: 1 April 2007


Prisoners are at greater risk of developing mental health problems compared with people of a similar age and gender in the community. They are less likely to have their mental health needs recognised, are less likely to receive psychiatric help or treatment, and are at an increased risk of suicide. Prison mental health in‐reach services have been developed in the UK to address these problems. An organisational case study method was used to generate theory about the links between the aims, processes and impacts of the introduction of mental health in‐reach teams to prison contexts. Case studies were undertaken on six sites and included interviews and focus groups with in‐reach team staff, prison healthcare staff, and discipline staff. The aims of prison mental health in‐reach were related to providing an equivalent service to a Community Mental Health Team, with a primary focus on serious mental illness, but a widening role. Achievement of these aims was mediated by the organisational context, active relationship development and leadership. Overall effects were positively reported by all stakeholders. Successful development was not just a function of time in post, but also a function of the effectiveness of leadership within the in‐reach teams. The more effective teams were having a wide impact on the response to mental health problems in the prison setting



Ricketts, T., Brooker, C. and Dent‐Brown, K. (2007), "Mental health in‐reach teams in English prisons: Aims, processes and impacts", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 3 No. 4, pp. 234-247.

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