Mental Health in Prison | Nacro
Header with three portraits for mental health in prison

Mental Health in Prison

People in prison are more likely to suffer with mental health problems than the general population and over half of people in prison report mental health issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. Mental health is often at the heart of why people commit crime and a prison sentence could be an opportunity for people to address these issues, getting the help they need and reducing the likelihood of someone reoffending on release. Unfortunately, its often a wasted opportunity as many people don’t get the help they need while they are inside, and often their mental health gets worse. Many face long waiting lists for mental health support, disruptions in their medication, a lack of meaningful activity and some people are locked in their cells for over 22 hours a day. It is no wonder the level of mental health need is high, and its getting worse.

  • 93

    self-inflicted deaths in prison in 2023

  • 21 %

    y-o-y increase in self-inflicted deaths in 2023

  • 17 %

    y-o-y increase in self-harm in prison in 2023

Mental Health Briefing download document

Read our full report: 30 minute read

The report is the second from the Nacro Justice ExChange, a network of people who have been in contact with the criminal justice system and received support from Nacro. This briefing examines:

  • the level of mental health issues in prison and how people in prison who have mental health issues are identified
  • the impact that the prison environment can have on people’s mental health
  • the support currently available in prison and the impact all this can have on people’s ability to turn their lives around on release.
Nacro Justice ExChange: Mental Health in Prison
Everyone in prison has some sort of mental health issue. And when you are banged up for 23 hours a day if you don’t have a strong mind, you’re going to suffer more.
Person in prison
Play video
Helen Berreford mental health in prisons video

Why we should all care about mental health in prison: 3.5 minute watch

Helen Berresford, Nacro’s Director of External Engagement, explains the key points in Nacro’s mental health in prison briefing, what some of the solutions to the mental health crisis in prison could be and why people should care about this issue.