Severe Mental Disorders Highly Prevalent in Jails, Prisons

Source: Neil Osterweil, Clinical Psychiatry News Digital Network, November 17, 2011

U.S. correctional institutions are estimated to be housing 1 million men and women with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or a major affective disorder, investigators reported at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

The estimated prevalence of serious mental disorders among U.S. inmates ranges from 7% to 16%….

…The high rates of substance use and abuse is one of the primary factors contributing to the high incarceration rate of the mentally ill, they said. Other factors, they said, are:
• Insufficient community resources.
• A national drug policy that emphasizes interdiction over treatment.
• Delays in release from prisons and jails to the community.
• Insufficient inmate access to evidence-based mental health therapies.
• Insufficient planning for reentry of mental health inmates into the community.

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