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The prevalence of mental health difficulties in a sample of prisoners in Trinidadian prisons referred for anger management

John Rose (School of Psychology, The University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK) (Academic Department, St Andrews Health Care, Northampton, UK)
Gerard Hutchinson (Department of Community Health and Psychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies at Saint Augustine, Saint Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago)
Paul Willner (Swansea University, Swansea, UK)
Tony Bastick (Department of Community Health and Psychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of the West Indies at Saint Augustine, Saint Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago)

The Journal of Forensic Practice

ISSN: 2050-8794

Article publication date: 16 October 2018

Issue publication date: 7 November 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the prevalence of mental health disorder symptoms in a sample of prisoners in Trinidadian prisons who volunteered to attend anger management groups.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey was conducted using the 90-item Symptom Check-List revised (SCL-90-R) which was administered to prisoners in groups within the prison system. In total 132 prisoners (about 9 per cent of the prison population) completed the measure. The effect sizes of prisoners’ similarities to a psychiatric inpatient group and their differences from a non-patient group were used to identify symptoms most indicative of pathology in these prisoners.

Findings

The results on the SCL-90-R indicate that this group of prisoners (77.3 per cent male) had scores of psychiatric symptomatology that were much closer to a psychiatric inpatient population rather than to a general community population.

Practical implications

These results suggest there may be unmet psychiatric need among the population served by the prison services in Trinidad. It is not known how this sample differs from the general prison population. However, the unmet psychiatric need in this specific population suggests that a greater mental health focus in health services within prisons is to be considered to meet these needs.

Originality/value

These data suggest that there are significant mental health issues for some prisoners in Trinidad and possibly more generally in similar prison systems within the Caribbean and this may have significant implications for the treatment of prisoners and the delivery of mental health services in these prisons.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Conflict of interest: the authors have no conflicts of interest with respect to this publication. This work was conducted with part of a UWI/-Government of Trinidad and Tobago Research and Development Impact Fund (RDIf) grant provided by the National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago.

Citation

Rose, J., Hutchinson, G., Willner, P. and Bastick, T. (2018), "The prevalence of mental health difficulties in a sample of prisoners in Trinidadian prisons referred for anger management", The Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 249-256. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFP-03-2018-0011

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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