Prison mental healthcare: recent developments and future challenges [2019]

Purpose of review
In prisons, resources for psychiatric care are limited, but the population is at high risk for mental disorders. This article aims to review recent findings and developments and to focus on the changing needs of prisoners and consequences for treatment.

Recent findings
The evidence for high general prevalence rates of mental disorders in prison populations can be considered as robust worldwide. Recent meta-analyses focused on specific prevalence rates and found that complex disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder, are also more common in prison populations. Interest is growing in studying subgroups with special needs, for example, women and older prisoners. Furthermore, a large amount of research deals with suicide and self-harm, especially risk factors and assessments. Promising results have been obtained for treatment outcome in substance use disorders. Psychological therapies, however, have not yet been proven to have sustaining effects.

Considering the growing amount of research on prison inmates’ mental health issues and heterogeneous needs, future studies should aim to consolidate previous findings and develop special diagnostic and therapeutic standards for mental healthcare in prisons that consider ethical aspects and human and financial resources.

Franke, Irina; Vogel, Tobias; Eher, Reinhard; Dudeck, Manuela
Current Opinion in Psychiatry: July 2019 – Volume 32 – Issue 4
DOI: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000504