Mental healthcare interfaces in a regional Irish prison [2019]

The purpose of this paper is to study the demographic, clinical characteristics and outcomes for those prisoners referred to secondary mental healthcare in a regional Irish prison and the proportion of individuals diverted subsequently from prison to psychiatric settings.

The authors conducted a retrospective review of 130 successive psychiatric assessment case records at a regional mixed gender prison serving six southern Irish counties. The authors analysed demographics, clinical characteristics and outcomes. Where diversion out of prison was undertaken, Dangerousness, Understanding, Recovery and Urgency Manual (DUNDRUM) scores were retrospectively completed to assess security need.

In total, 8.6 per cent of all committals from liberty were referred by a general practitioner and 8.1 per cent subsequently assessed by the visiting psychiatrist. Predominantly, these were young males charged with a violent offence. In all, 42.2 per cent of those assessed by secondary care were diagnosed with a substance misuse disorder and 21.1 per cent with a personality disorder. In total, 20.3 per cent suffered from a psychotic disorder and 10.6 per cent with an affective disorder. Of those seen by psychiatric services, 51.2 per cent required psychotropic medication, 29.2 per cent required psychological input and 59.3 per cent required addiction counselling. In all, 10.6 per cent of those assessed were diverted from prison, the majority to approved centres. Mean DUNDRUM-1 scores suggested that those referred to high and medium secure hospitals were appropriately placed, whereas those diverted to open wards would have benefited from a low secure/intensive care setting.

The multifaceted need set of those referred strengthens the argument for the provision of multidisciplinary mental healthcare into prisons. The analysis of security needs for those diverted from prisons supports the need for Intensive Care Regional Units in Ireland.

Gautam Gulati, Kizito Otuokpaikhian, Maeve Crowley, Vishnu Pradeep, David Meagher, Colum P. Dunne
International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 15 Issue: 1, 2019