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Mental health in prisons: A public health agenda

A. Fraser (Scottish Prison Service (SPS), Calton House, 5 Redheughs Rigg, Edinburgh, Scotland)

International Journal of Prisoner Health

ISSN: 1744-9200

Article publication date: 1 March 2009



Mental illness affects the majority of prisoners. Mental health issues are beginning to take a central position in the development of prison health services, reflecting this burden of disease. This change in focus is not before time. But prison mental health services cannot exist in isolation. Public health systems should lead provision of care for patients with acute and severe illness. A whole prison approach to health and, specifically, mental health will offer the greatest likelihood that offenders will thrive, benefit from imprisonment, and lead law‐abiding lives after release. Public awareness of the scale and commitment of prisons to mental health and illness, and understanding of prisons’ role in society, are necessary developments that would protect and enhance public mental health, as well as creating a healthier and safer society. This article draws on recent reviews, information and statements to set out a public health agenda for mental health in prisons.



Fraser, A. (2009), "Mental health in prisons: A public health agenda", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 132-140.



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